Spiritual habits are important—there’s not a Next Gen leader out there who will argue with that. We all agree we want students actively pursuing a relationship with God. But for most students, the idea of reading the Bible or having an active prayer life can feel unattainable or just plain boring.
On today’s episode of The Think Orange Podcast, we’ll talk about cultivating environments where kids and students can develop an authentic faith by focusing on four faith skills. We’ll hear from youth ministry veterans Crystal Chiang and Stuart Hall who will cast a vision and provide practical tools for helping students develop a prayer life and a relationship with God.
Stuart Hall talks about how the goal of spiritual habits is to bring about authentic faith in the next generation (3:57)
Orange defines authentic faith as trusting in Jesus in a way that transforms the way I love God, the way I love myself, and the way I love others (4:09)
As a ministry leader, your job is to provoke discovery and fuel passion (4:39)
Summary of Orange’s Four Faith Skills (spiritual habits) (5:13)
• HEAR from God
• PRAY to God
• TALK about God
• LIVE for God
Trusting Jesus is important if kids and students are going to develop a faith of their own (6:01)
Jesus was a real person who lived, died, and rose again (11:47)
The Bible didn’t create Christianity; Christianity created the Bible—the resurrection is our hope (13:15)
When teaching the Bible to kids and students, start with Jesus (14:47)
Practical things leaders can do to introduce kids and students to the Bible (15:52)
Kids and students have to hear us praying for and with them (17:29)
If you want kids and students to talk about God, you have to be ready for hard questions (20:29)
The church should be the safest place for a kid or student to express their doubts (21:21)
As a student pastor or small group leader, your most important asset is your emotional intelligence and ability to ask good questions (23:29)
Providing service opportunities for kids and students should be built into your church’s DNA (24:16)
Guest host Sarah Bragg interviews Crystal Chiang (27:47)
As adults, we can make prayer less weird by owning that it isn’t like every other conversation we have (29:43)
Our desire for immediate feedback can cause us to believe “prayer doesn’t work” (31:54)
Recap of the Four Faith Skills (34:05)
Leaders can guide and encourage students toward a thriving prayer life by walking with them through a specific experience in which they see results (35:33)
Crystal explains the Thirty Challenge (37:21)
Dave’s final thoughts (42:38)
People, Places & Helpful Resources
Crystal Chiang is the Director of XP3 High School Curriculum. Before joining the team at Orange, she spent 10 years as a high school Spanish teacher and student ministry leader, doing everything from small groups to speaking to curriculum design.
Stuart serves as Director of Student Leadership and Leadership Networking for Orange (ReThink Group) and also leads INFLUNSR, an organization whose mission is to fuel the next generation of leaders worth following. Stuart speaks to thousands of junior high, high school and college students, student pastors, parents, leaders, and coaches every year through camps, retreats, and special events.
He has co-authored three books: the award-winning The Seven Checkpoints: Seven Principles Every Teenager Needs to Knowand MAX Q: Developing Students of Influence with Andy Stanley, and the leadership edition of Wired: For a Life of Worship with Louie Giglio.
Quotes from This Episode
Ideas to Influence the Next Generation
The idea of developing spiritual habits can be difficult for a kid or student to understand. As ministry leaders, where do we even begin to implement a culture that embraces spiritual habits as part of our DNA? Here are three ways you can encourage small group leaders and parents to engage their kids in learning spiritual habits and putting them into practice:
1. Talk about them.
Sure, it may be awkward at first, but the more you incorporate the four spiritual habits into your conversations and small group discussions, the more natural it will become. Use language and words that are easy to understand. For example, around Orange, we often refer to spiritual habits as Faith Skills. And to make it even easier, we’ve broken them down into four faith skills: HEAR from God, PRAY to God, TALK about God, and LIVE for God.
2. Model them.
If you desire for the kids and students around you to develop faith skills of their own, you have to show them what it looks like to live out your faith in a real way. This can happen in quick, impromptu ways, like taking a moment as you drive in the car to say, “This morning I was reading a verse in the Bible that reminded me that God wants me to love others—including my coworkers.” Or it could mean taking a week of vacation and asking your high schooler to join you on a mission trip. Kids and students are perceptive of when adults are being authentic with them so let your desire to know God better be evident to them.
3. Take them one step at a time.
The last thing you want is for kids and students to view spiritual habits as a boring checklist of things that must be done in order to be a Christian. Instead of focusing on doing #allthethings at once, provide clear examples of ways kids, students, and parents can do just one more thing each week than they did the week before. Maybe it’s encouraging families to participate in a five-day Bible reading plan. Maybe it’s praying together one night a week. Spiritual habits aren’t about doing a list of tasks; they’re about developing a lifestyle that follows Jesus for the long-term.
Conversation Starters For Your Church
What are the three or four actions I would define as most important to helping a student develop a life-long faith?
What’s a doubt I’ve experienced in my own faith journey? How can I share this with those I influence in an authentic way?
What is my ministry’s current approach to teaching the Bible—does it start with Jesus or cause the listener to work their way to Him over time?
What resources do we as a church, or myself as a parent or small group leader, have available to kids and students as they pursue spiritual habits?
When he’s not working as a pastor at North Point Ministries in Atlanta, Dave is usually making his family cross their arms, roll their eyes, and tap their feet while he takes “just one more quick photo” on family outings. You’ll also often find him up to his neck in “Jewish stuff” as he researches the cultural context of Jesus for his daily Instagram devotions. Learn more about Dave at daveadamson.tv.
Join Us Next Week
Thank you for listening to the Think Orange Podcast.
We hope you’ll join us for next week’s episode. More importantly, we hope that when you think next generation, you think Orange.