In the last few months, I have been reading various books and articles on "Youth Ministry" and "Youth Culture." A startling theme found in all of these sources has to do with what happens when teens graduate from high school, move on from the youth group, and move away to college or a career. Recent surveys have found there to be a huge drop-off of students who leave home...and leave the church.
When "church" kids were surveyed by organizations like NSYR or National Study of Youth and Religion, (www.youthandreligion.org/research ), the findings showed that students were quite talkative about all kinds of areas of their lives...except their faith. When it came down to explaining what they believed as followers of Christ, they were largely silent. This means that one of two things is happening. Either these students are not really believers...or...they are believers in Christ who cannot articulate what that means!
As someone who has been primarily responsible for 7th-12th graders in a pastoral role for over 6 years, I take this to heart and wonder what part the church...and student ministry have played in these statistics. Obviously, there is a disconnect somewhere. So I ask, "What can we do to combat these things and encourage real growth and maturity in the lives of our students?"
Personally, I think it is important to go back and help our students "reconstruct" their testimonies. Right now, I am leading my group through this process. My hope is that, along the way, some students will be strengthened in knowing/expressing what they believe God has done for them in their lives. At the same time, maybe some students will realize that they don't have a testimony because they have never really connected with the saving work of Christ...and they will respond to His call.
Our new series on building your testimony is called, "Who Are You?" Below, I have listed the basic outline topics. In coming days, I hope to expand on each of these to provide a resource that others can use...
Part One: I SIN (acknowledging that all have sinned and realize how God view this)
Part Two: I REPENT ( I must turn FROM my sin and turn TO God)
Part Three: I BELIEVE (understanding what Christ did for me...as well as being familiar with Christian doctrine)
Part Four: I CHANGE (transformed by God in my life - Regeneration)
Part Five: I GROW (the process of Sanctification & Glorification in the life of a Christian)
Part Six: I GO ( the Commission and Calling for ALL believers to share Christ with the world around us)