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Next Steps towards Lasting Faith

02 Dec Spiritual Formation | Comments Off on Next Steps towards Lasting Faith
Next Steps towards Lasting Faith
 

Two weeks ago today, we had another wonderful equipping event here at Project Renovation. One Life’s Derek Melleby led us in an important discussion about instilling lasting faith into the teens we work with every day. We loved the discussion of the day and were excited to be with other youth workers from across PA. If you were not able to attend, a link to hear Derek’s message will be up on the Project Website later this week.

Our leadership team at Cross Connection Ministries (CCM) attended the event and we’ve been talking through the points that Derek gave in the days that have followed. Over the past few months, we’ve been in prayer and discussion about next steps for young people after they graduate and/or after they are unable to attend many of the youth programs with our organization. In the past, we have tried different programs, relationship opportunities, gatherings, internships etc. with varying degrees of success. We find ourselves still in the process of evaluating their long term effectiveness here at CCM. So needless to say, the topic was very important for us as we consider “next steps” ministry.

What stood out to our team at the event was one of Derek’s goals for student ministry: to help them prepare for “after youth group.”

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Derek encouraged us to help students ask “big questions.” He encouraged youth workers to help students think through what they believe. Students need safe atmospheres where they can ask tough questions and where they have the opportunity to share their doubts and fears. It’s important that they have a chance to understand their own faith and are able to describe it in their own words.

At CCM, we have given students the opportunity to ask any questions they want and have used a variety of forms including writing down their questions ahead of time and using anonymous texting. These times have been only moderately successful. However, what we liked about Derek’s point was that we can help them ask their big questions. Instead of just providing an opportunity- we can assist them in thinking through what they believe and why.

Below are some thoughts that we have discussed so that we can safely and effectively allow for students to ask questions in our programs.

1. Relationships need to be in place.

We realize that if students are going to be able to share and ask questions effectively they need to be surrounded with people that they trust and that they feel will not judge them for their comments.

2. The right atmosphere.

For us the right atmosphere is in a smaller group where students are able to feel heard. For CCM, this is during our weekly Bible Study where there is food, fellowship, fun and discussion time. Every group will have a different “right” atmosphere that make sense for them.

3. Example questions and hearing others’ past doubts.

Students often start thinking more deeply when they hear comments and stories from others that they respect. We have been discussing having students who have graduated through our programs come in to share their stories and talk about what their struggles and doubts were in the past.

4. Opportunity for dialogue.

Dialogue and not always providing the “answer” right away is valuable for further understanding. Sometimes when a student asks a question, we desire to provide an answer quickly. It can be helpful to ask students what they think first. This often prompts other students to voice similar questions.

5. Thanking students for their vulnerability.

In any situation, when a student opens up, it’s an opportunity to thank them for trusting their leaders. We feel it’s important to thank students when they have shared their doubts or asked tough questions. We want them to do it and even if it shocks us, bothers us or concerns us- we rejoice that they shared with us!

Students have questions. Youth struggle with doubts.

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We want them to share in safe environments instead of looking for answers elsewhere. Thanking students and letting them know how much we appreciated their honesty is a great way to establish the trust that is needed to continue on to walk in life with them.

So what are your next steps? For us, our next steps are to implement a Doubt/Question night series for our weekly Bible study. What ideas are you thinking of implementing in your own organizations?

Meredith Dahl
Executive Directory at Cross Connection Ministries
Meredith is the Executive Director of Cross Connection Ministries in New Holland, PA. She has received a Bachelor of Science in Student Ministry and a Master of Arts in Ministry (Concentration in Student Ministry) from Lancaster Bible College. Meredith and her husband live in New Holland with their baby boy Liam and love living, working and volunteering in their community.