Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Imagine it’s promotion Sunday at your church, and in walks the up and coming junior high class. This class of sixth or seventh graders are fresh meat. They have no clue about anything, they could care less about a boyfriend or
girlfriend, I mean come on, most of them haven’t even learned how to bathe regularly and wear deodorant. They are so excited to transition from elementary to junior high. They are clueless about most things including: the will of God for their life, who they will marry, and where they will go to college. However, God has placed them in your care for the next five to six years and although they don’t realize it yet they are looking to you to help them make those big decisions that are soon to come. Let me stop there and say, getting your teens to Bible college starts here, while
they are in Junior High. If you wait to start the conversation about Bible college when they are a Senior in High School you have missed the boat.
When I became youth pastor at our church, there was a senior in our youth department that had their mind made up long before I ever came where they was attending college, and nothing was going to persuade them otherwise. However, now I am going into my fourth year and we currently have several students scattered at good IFB Bible colleges. It is not because I have some secret formula that no one knows about, however, I have put several things
in place as soon as a junior high student enters my youth group. I personally believe it is both beneficial and Biblical for each young person to attend at least one year of Bible college. Obviously not everyone is called into the ministry, but all can benefit from the teaching and preaching that is received at Bible college. I do believe if you have teens that are called into the ministry without question should finish and receive their degree. How do we as youth leaders accomplish this great task of getting our teenagers to Bible college?
I’m sure it goes without saying, but we must learn what it is to spend time daily praying for our teenagers. A couple of ways for you to pray for them:
A. Pray for them Individually
Pray for each one of your teenagers individually by name. If we pray for our teenagers generally then we will get general results. However, when we pray for them specifically we will get specific results. We understand there is great power in prayer, yet we fail to truly take the time to pray like we should.
When I first became youth pastor one of the first things I did was remodel our teen room. There was nothing wrong with the way it looked beforehand, I just wanted to give it a fresh new look. We painted, put new ceiling tiles in, replaced the chairs, built a platform, built a new pulpit, put up a tv, and several other things. One thing I added in the decoration is a hand print of each of my teenagers with their name on it and the year they graduate. When a new teen enters our group we have them dip their hand in paint, and put it on our wall. It serves as neat decorations for our room, but it is also the place I get alone with God throughout the week and pray for my teens individually by name!
B. Pray for them Intentionally
Pray for your teenagers with an intention in mind. Obviously we do not choose the will of God for our teenagers, but I do believe God gives us youth leaders dreams of what our teenagers could accomplish for Him. Pray intentionally for each one of your teenagers that they would accomplish the perfect will of God for their life.
As we pray daily for our teenagers, we also need to major on preaching to them.
A. Preach on the Importance of Following the Will of God
It ought to be apart of your regular preaching the importance of following the will of God for their life. There are two wills for each Child of God:
1.Universal Will of God
a. Bible Reading
e. Church Attendance
These are things I don’t have to pray about, God wants each one of His children doing each one of these things.
There is also:
2. Unique Will of God
You will never know the unknown will of God for your life, until first you are actively doing the known will of God. We must preach this to our teenagers often to show the importance of following the will of God.
B. Preach on the Insignificance of the World
Every chance I get I try to down play this old wicked world. It has nothing to offer our teenagers. It may seem like it has much to offer, but it doesn’t. Any chance I get, I build up the importance of following the will of God and the insignificance of this world. This is especially true if you have bus teens that attend a public school.
Plan a Bible college tour. There are several good IFB Bible colleges out there, and they don’t mind if you come for a visit. Plan a trip with your juniors and seniors to see these colleges. Plan it for a time that works best in your teens schedule. For us that is the teens spring break. I have several public school teens, and I work around their schedule. Sometimes the colleges “college days” is not the best for your teens schedule. I promise these colleges will not get
upset if you have to bring them at a different time. After all, you want to take as many as can go so find a time that works best with the majority.
Contact the colleges ahead of time to let them know you are coming. Make sure nothing interferes with their schedule on the day you are planning to visit.
Visit the colleges your pastor recommends and endorses. You are not the pastor, these are not your teens, you are simply an extension to the pastor. Follow his lead on where to visit.
Plan to visit several classes while on campus.
I would say it is vitally important to get your teens to the chapel service of each Bible college you attend. Chapel is by far the most important class they will attend, so make sure you can attend chapel when you visit.
Ask to receive a tour of the campus while you are visiting.
On the way home, have conversations with your teens and ask them some pros and cons of each college.
After you have planned a visit to several colleges, help point your teenagers to the right college. Don’t be afraid to share your counsel. Remember, they are looking to you, their pastor, and parents to help them make this big decision.
A. Prepare them Spiritually
Your teenagers should be Spiritually ready to go to Bible college. They should know the importance of a daily walk with God.
B. Prepare them Physically
Give them some practical advice about saving money, the schedule, etc. that comes with Bible college. Give them resources to read to prepare them: “Preparing for Bible College” by Andrew Reimers (North Valley Baptist Church Santa Clara, CA) , High School to High Calling by Sam Geckler Dunes Baptist Church Michigan City, IN)
C. Prepare them Emotionally
Leaving home is hard, and I am not sure you can fully preparethem for the emotional feelings homesickness brings, however, explain that when it comes to stay faithful and don’t quit!
If you pray, preach, plan, point, and prepare, you will produce a Bible college student ready to do something big for God.
Conclusion: Let me say this in closing- when you do finally get your teenager to Bible college, always be there for them. Even though they are not in your youth group each week, they are still one of your teenagers and you are still their youth pastor. Although I have several Bible college students scattered all over the place, I still pray for them daily and keep in contact with them. The greatest thing you can do for them when they leave for Bible college is be there for them!
YP | First Baptist Church