Discipleship is a lifelong journey that doesn’t start, or stop, when you profess your faith. In the ministry to our students at Smoke Rise we try and provide building blocks that will be foundational to a lifelong commitment to a life lived for Christ. At the beginning of each new year we reflect back on the previous year by telling stories and reading through our journals that we keep in the Youth Room. Then we set spiritual goals for the next year based on where we have been and what we want to do in the next year.

For some youth that means reading through the entirety of the Bible or to study the Gospels. For other youth it means beginning a quiet time and choosing a book or spiritual discipline to guide them through their quiet time. One of our youth decided that he needed to pray more regularly, but he also needed accountability as he began praying. He asked if I would text him regularly to check in on him to see how he is doing. So I set an reminder on my phone to make sure I did this for him. Sometimes when I check in, I get a text back that says, “Just did:’ But there are other times when I get a text back that says, “No:’ and that leads to a conversation about what is going on.

There’s another one of our youth who decided to write notes to people in her school that don’t get the recognition that they deserve and how she sees God in their life. Other students mark up their bulletins on Sunday morning, not with notes to their friends, but in the ways that they see God inscripture and how they see God in the world around them.

It’s not just individuals that are taking their faith deeper, a group of our high schoolers came to me and asked if they could have a Bible study only for them where they could dig deeper into questions of faith that they have and have the time and space to ask questions that they might not want to ask with other people in the room. So, we’ve started a time together called “Can I Ask That?”  Where we explore things that they might have previously thought were off the table to ask, or that they ask, and talk about other places but haven’t talked about church before.

Our youth are beginning to see how their faith is more than just a one time event, or something that happens when they are together on Wednesdays and Sundays, they are beginning to see, and live out their faith in their daily lives. They come back and share where they saw God throughout the week. They talk about things that they struggle with and are encouraged by their fellow youth. We even get to see the glimmer that they get in their eyes when they realize, “This is my gift and I can do it!” It’s not always easy. It’s most often messy. There’s no single way for our youth to grow, but they are blossoming into some pretty awesome people.


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