Who Do You Want Students To Become?
If we think about the lives of the New Testament Christ-followers, we realize there are some characteristics we should desire to see in our students' lives.
By no means is this a comprehensive list, but maybe just the ones that stand out the most to me. (I'm curious what characteristics you would add.)
The 12 disciples were learners. They experienced the coolest seminary in the history of the world, a three-year degree taught in Jesus' classroom. Jesus constantly taught these guys principles of the Kingdom, then backed it up with practical application. The disciples were constantly in an environment of learning. The supernatural aspect of Scripture makes it different than learning anything else. Most people don't read a chemistry textbook and yearn for more equations. But the more we know about God, the more we are compelled to want to know more. If students are given a knowledge of the Bible and shown how to practically demonstrate it, they will become learners who are hungry for more knowledge of God.
Jesus' followers were teachers. Think about it: Peter's sermon at Pentecost; Philip's encounter with the Ethiopian; and of course, Paul and James and John's commitment to teaching in their epistles, just to name a few. When your students take seriously the call to live out their faith, they teach their peers everyday what it looks like to follow Christ, mostly in their actions but in their words as well. The hope is that this example leads to relationships, which leads to an understanding of Scripture, which hopefully leads to a relationship with Christ. It's all about expectations. If you believe your students can become teachers, your ministry strategy will reflect this.
The New Testament picture of Christ-followers is one of a bold group of men and women who fully understood their identity in the face of a hostile world. These folks faced all kinds of discomfort because they rebelled from the values and expectations of their society. They chose to live by the Kingdom values taught to them by Christ. They were rebels. Your students are called to be rebels, as well. The ways of God's Kingdom go directly against the ways of our culture in so many different aspects. If your students live as those who boldly resist the values of our society and who instead both radically pursue God's ways and infuse the world with the hope of the Gospel, they will not only be obedient to Christ's commands, they will draw others to God, as well.
The Apostles were nothing if not leaders. Maybe more than anything, I want the students in my small group to become leaders. I want them to lead those around them in how they think about their future and the values they attach to things like money and career. I want them to lead others in how people should be treated, especially the sick, poor, and outcast. I want them to lead others in how to live out the ethics of God's Kingdom. And I want them to ultimately lead others to a true understanding of what a relationship with Christ looks like.
The disciples were failures. They failed over and over again. They said dumb things, did dumb things, and didn't do things they were supposed to do. And you know what? They failed because they were trying. They failed because they were giving it a shot. They were making it happen. And Jesus was cool with their failure. He took every single opportunity he could to use their failure to shape and mold them. He never once gave up on them. If your students aren't failures, it's because they aren't trying.
Learner. Teacher. Rebel. Leader. Failure. Not a bad description of a Christ-follower.
Which characteristics would you add to this list?