Here are a few practical things -- whether you are a parent, grandparent, youth leader or church staff member –- to help students in your church grow and mature in Christ.
Encourage mission involvement
Going on church and youth mission trips is one of the best ways for a student to personalize his or her faith. As the director of an on-campus collegiate ministry, when I ask incoming college freshmen why they stayed close to Christ during their high school years, many of them share the importance a mission trip or mission involvement had in strengthening their walk with the Lord. Consider participating in a mission trip and local mission ministries as a family. Organize your service with several families in your church.
Live it out
As a parent or grandparent, be an example to students. They are watching and observing how you live out your faith. Are you having a daily quiet time? Are you memorizing Scripture? Are you using your spiritual gifts? Are you sharing your faith with your co-workers, friends and relatives? Are you involved in local missions and the mission trips of your church?
If your son or daughter really is like you spiritually, what kind of Christian will that make them? Are you a 24/7 Christian or just a weekend warrior? If you aren't living out your faith, then chances are great that your son or daughter will follow in your footsteps.
Help them get to know the staff and adults in your church
Students need to be a part of the total church, not just the youth ministry. Be creative in helping them get to know the church staff and other strong Christian adults in your church. I am convinced that students "catch" Christianity as much as they learn it. As they spend time with other strong Christian adults, students grow in their faith.
Realize the importance of the summer student conferences
Many youth groups participate in a summer conference such as World Changers, Student Life or FugeCamps. These weeks can be invaluable in helping students grow and mature in their faith. As they spend a concentrated period of time in Bible study, prayer and worship, they "catch" a passion for Christ from the camp leaders and counselors. They develop strong friendships with other students and the adult leaders of your church.
Plan your vacations around major youth conferences your church attends. Make sure your older students don't let summer jobs or sports activities keep them from participating. Valuable spiritual growth can be missed.
Connect graduating seniors to campus ministries
As a collegiate minister for more than 30 years I can confidently say that being able to contact incoming students months before they arrive on campus greatly increases our chances of reaching and involving the student. Visit sbccampusconnect.net to connect with your student's campus ministry. To contact the BCM director visit bcmlife.net.
Encourage high school juniors to be Senior Disciples
Senior disciples commit to being leaders in their youth groups and to reaching out to their high school for Christ during their senior year. They can sign up at seniordisciple.net.
Encourage high school grads to be Collegiate Disciples
Collegiate Disciples commit to being involved in a local church and the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at the college or university they attend, as well as being a disciple for Christ while in college. Students can sign up at collegiatedisciple.netcollegiatedisciple.net.
Steve Masters serves as Baptist Collegiate Ministry director at Louisiana State University and as transitions coordinator for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. This article first appeared in Parenting Teens magazine published by LifeWay. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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