Each of us have a moment in our lives where God became real to us. When we realized that He just wasn’t out there somewhere running the universe, but that He was close and cared for us as individuals. Our relationship with God moved from corporate to personal, from our families’ faith to our faith.
In Gen 28-33 we see the journey of Jacob as he realizes that the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac is also the God of Jacob. He moves from relating to God as the God of his fathers to coming into a personal realization that God is his God, El Elohe Israel (the God of Israel).
As leaders our role is to point our youth to Jesus, to help them develop a relationship with Him. This is the time where they begin to discover that God is not just the God of their parents but He is also their God. We need to be cultivating that realization, understanding, and revelation that God wants to be intricately involved in their lives.
Having a personal relationship with Jesus is what will sustain them through the trails, peer pressure, ups, and downs of this life. As they go to college and move away from friends and family it isn’t the great sermon they received in youth group or the retreat they went on in 9th grade that will keep them, but it is the authentic genuine relationship they have with Jesus. Learning how to hear His voice, understanding that He is real, that He is close and cares for them, that they can go to Him with their struggles, worries, victories and failings is what will keep them.
We need to constantly be asking ourselves this question. How am I helping my youth fall more in love with Jesus?
That is the core question. It doesn’t matter if you have flashing lights, a hip name or a modern venue. What matters is pointing your youth towards an authentic relationship with Jesus. It is creating an environment where they can learn, taste, and see God’s intimate, personal love for them.
The starting place for creating that environment believe it or not is your own relationship with Jesus.
How are you falling more in love with Jesus?
Ask yourself this question: Am I spending regular unhurried time with Jesus? Times where I am not planning a sermon or formulating a teaching series, but times where I can soak in His presence for the express purpose of being with Him. As we fall more in love with Jesus our words, actions, and outflow naturally draw others to Him. There is a quote that says, “People don’t come to watch you preach they come to watch your burn”.
Today’s youth are inundated with a culture of flash and hype that has no depth. They are looking for and craving authenticity. They want to see someone burn with passion and conviction. “If Jesus is as good as you say He is then let me see it in your life.” Your youth are looking to you to model for them what it is like to have a relationship with Jesus.
They don’t just want to hear you teach about Jesus. They want to see how you relate to Him.
How do you talk to Him, hear His voice & worship Him? How does this whole relationship thing work? As leaders we need to be modeling for our youth how to spend time with Jesus and interact with Him.
Here are some questions to think through in creating an environment where your youth can fall more in love with Jesus.
- How am I as a leader falling more in love with Jesus?
- Am I spending regular unhurried time with Jesus? If not, what do I need to change in my schedule to make this happen?
- Am I modeling for my youth what it looks like to have a personal relationship with Jesus?
- What are some practical steps I can do with my youth to develop their relationship with Jesus? Some ideas could be:
a. Have a time where you as leaders sit down and model for your youth how you personally spend time with God. How you read the Bible, what you hear God saying, how you talk to God etc.
b. Breaking up into small groups to practice reading the word and hearing from God.
c. Develop a list of questions your youth can ask as they read the Bible.
d. Provide opportunities for your youth to be involved in teaching, leading worship, sharing a devotional etc.
There are so many peripheral distractions that can rob of what truly matters. Create a culture where Jesus is exalted and conversations are facilitated about how to grow in following Him.
Jodi Seidler is a graduate of Elim Bible Institute. She has been serving with Campus Target for the past 7 years with her time split between living in Asia and living in America. She is involved in evangelism, discipleship and church planting. Jodi is currently helping lead Campus Target’s internship for long term workers and coordinate Short Term Trips to Asia.