3 things I want my students to know before they graduate (part 2)

What students should know before graduationREAD PART 1: Yesterday I shared 3 things I want my students to know before they graduate – part 1. This second part addresses how we try to accomplish those three things in our ministry.

Obviously, this is all a work of the Holy Spirit. I believe we are all depraved beings and that our natural desire is to peruse things that oppose God, so while I would love to see these three things take place in every graduating senior, I first have to be honest enough to say that these three things are not always present in my own life. My sin issues constantly derail me from being a perfect example for students.

However, without assuming too much responsibility for how each student chooses to respond to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, there are a couple things our ministry does to help push teenagers toward each of the three things.

1) 7th and 8th graders go through the entire Bible before high school. Our junior high small groups go through the entire Old Testament one year and the New Testmanet the next. By the time they enter high school, they have a basic understanding of the entire Word of God. Small group leaders do their best to help the junior highers not just fill their head with facts, but daily journaling, reflection, memorization, acts of service, and more help them apply it all practically to their daily life and practice.

2) Teach Bible study methods to high schoolers. This is a hard balance for me. Last year I did an 8 week series on hermeneutics and basically taught a crash course of my Intro to Bible Study Methods class from Dallas Theological Seminary. I whipped out all my old notes, gave them some of the same homework assignments I had in seminary, and provided books for further study. A few students stepped up to the challenge and really took the observation, interpretation and application process very seriously. For most, though, it was way over their head. I plan to revisit this series again next year, but it needs to be simplified and balanced so I don’t loose kids to day dreaming.

3) We youth leaders must model personal worship and evangelism. I do my best never to ask my kids to do something that I haven’t first tried in my own life. That means if I’m going to ask them to share about a time in the previous week when they brought God up in a conversation with an unsaved friend, I’d better have a story to share myself. If I’m challenging them to dig into God’s Word, I need to be doing it first and sharing that experience with the teens. They need to see how studying God’s Word practically plays out in my own life, how it affects my own decisions and values, and how it’s reflective in my personal worship and outreach. Otherwise I’m just another Christian hypocrite.

What it all really comes down to is our youth group’s vision to go Deep and Wide: deep into God’s Word and wide with His message to the people around us. That’s what drives everything we do, including the 3 things I want my students to know before they graduate.

Posted on March 17, 2010

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  • Jimmy

    I'd love for my middle school kids to go through the Bible, but I'm having serious trouble finding material. What do you use?

    • We use something called, "The Journey," as a basis for our 2-year overview of the Bible, plus some of our own things thrown in. I blogged a review about it here

    • Generations of Grace is a curriculum from John MacArthur's church that takes you through the redemptive history of the Bible in 3 years. It is a children's curriculum but can be a great outline and tweeked for 6th-8th graders. I switched our church to that when I can on staff 3 years ago. They are starting it over this year. If you start it at 3 years, your kids will have gone through the curriulum 4 times by high school.

  • A basic Bible knowledge is crucial for every Christian to be able to interpret and understand for themselves. In adolescence each of us is dependent on others to teach, instruct and explain, but in growing towards independence it's important to have good foundations to build from. It is important for our teenagers to grow in their own faith and understanding instead of being dependent on what they are told by others. As youth leaders we need to demonstrate how this understanding of the Bible has deepened our own faith and continue to challenge our young people to do the same.

  • Amy

    Hi! Regarding point #2…I would encourage you not to go too simple in your attempts to simplify it for the daydreamers. Sometimes we worry too much about going over the heads of some, to the detriment of those who are really ready to stretch high and reach for the bar. Too often we dumb things down and simplify things in youth ministry that we, by default, are never truly feeding the hungry ones! I say, (in general of course), feed the hungry and trust that those (whose heads it’s going over) will eventually catch the fever of true, authentic faith and begin to hunger for it themselves. I also say numbers shouldn’t dictate which “group” you’re focusing on. Even if there are more daydreamers than those willing to stretch for the bar, don’t make the mistake of too often dumbing things down. Just my 2 cents. :)
    Amy at

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