Intro - 4
“churchy” - 5
now what? - 7
how do we move forward? - 9
what does a night look like? - 10
where’s the leader? - 12
what’s so different? - 14
go - 15
to serve, love and communicate the gospel - 16
failure and empowerment - 17
make it happen - 18
(appendix) ﬁve statements - 19
(appendix) intentional icebreakers - 20
(appendix) example setup - 21
What if you, as a teen, were empowered to own your faith? What if adults moved from in front of
you to behind you giving you a push instead of pulling you and allowed you to make decisions and
challenge yourself to daily walk with Christ? It may seem counterproductive to hand things over to you
because you wonʼt really grow or that you would ﬂounder like a ﬁsh out of water. I see it a little differently.
I have two daughters, Makenna and Mattie. When Mattie, the youngest one, was about 7 months
old I began to wonder if she could hold her own bottle. I hadnʼt tried it before but why not? At ﬁrst, she
didnʼt want to take it because I wasnʼt holding it but then if I held her hands their she did. If I moved my
hands, she would hold it for a while but then she would get distracted or move her hands and then she
would cry because she was frustrated. I was waiting and waiting for Mattie to put her hands on the bottle
and hold it by herself but it just never happened. A few days later, my wife put Mattie in a beanbag, the
bottle in her mouth and her hands on the bottle. To my amazement, she took the whole bottle by herself.
She didnʼt miss a step. Like I always do, I started to think how it related to youth. Do adults treat teens like
infants and, in essence, hold the bottle for them? Do adults still mash up the food and feed them? What
would happen if teens “held their own bottle” or took the fork and chewed their own food? What does that
even look like? Is it more that adults are afraid that teens will screw it up or do adults just know what to do
next? These questions may seem easy to answer but for some reason, they are constantly running
through my head. I think teens can and will step up and do much more than adults think they can but it
can be a little unnerving to let them go.
I think there needs to be a mental shift from teaching at every opportunity to empowering teens to
step up and BE Christ-followers. You may be asking where the Biblical foundation is. I tend to treat
students as adults. On a spiritual level, there doesnʼt seem to be a difference between a strong 16 year
old girl and a strong 40 year old guy. On the same note, 16 and 40 year old baby Christians are very
similar too. Often I think that teens are at an advantage because they arenʼt set in life yet and at times,
can make more life altering changes because there isnʼt as much to change. Any Bible study that deals
with adults can be very applicable to teens as well. Because of that, I am focusing this on ideology and
application to what you should already know about growing in faith and what that means.
You may be asking what the point of this is and itʼs a legitimate question. It seems that many
students are frustrated with their faith and it doesnʼt seem to matter if itʼs someone new to the Christian
faith or if itʼs someone who has grown up with it and knows what they are supposed to do. Maybe itʼs a
lack of discipline or a schedule thatʼs too busy, it could be that you focus on all the things youʼre doing that
“proves” that youʼre a bad Christian, whatever the case, I want to help you look from beyond the rut that
youʼre in. You may not understand where this is going at ﬁrst or may even get a little frustrated, give this a
chance to sink in.
Have you ever taken a look at church websites? One of the ﬁrst things listed in their description is
that they want people to come as they are. Itʼs not a bad thing to say that necessarily, but what if the
mindset was to have people go from the church as they are. In essence, people tend to give excuses as
to why they arenʼt ready to go back into the community to show Christ to those around them. I think Christ
is calling us to go just as we are and let Him work through us in those situations.
As a teen, you have a luxury that many people donʼt have. Almost every day, you have the
opportunity to see hundreds or thousands of people who are in the same stage of life you are and have a
lot in common with you. I know ...there are probably some things that stand out that set you apart but letʼs
not get too particular yet!
I believe that one of the important pieces missing from teens and their faith is the element of
value. Whether by choice or not, students donʼt seem to value their faith and apply it throughout their
lives. Hereʼs an example. Taking into account church, Sunday school, youth group, small group, Young
Life, Campus Life, etc.... how many hours do you spend a week related to your faith? Aside from all the
things you go to in a given week, what does your faith look like? If you took away those things that you go
to, what is left in your life that shows you are a Christ-follower?
I can here some of you now. “Brian! How can you say that these things are all bad? Church and
youth group are huge parts of my life!” This may very well be true. Iʼm not minimizing that. What I am
trying to get to is how does your faith inﬂuence the “every days”. What does the rest of your week look
like? is it ﬁlled with showing Christ to other people and being Christ to those who donʼt know him? I would
go out on a limb and guess that most likely, you donʼt look much different from everyone else when you
arenʼt in those “churchy” settings.
Thereʼs a verse I ran across recently that I donʼt remember reading before. Iʼve been struggling to
ﬁnd a verse for the youth ministry that Iʼm in charge of and couldnʼt ﬁnd anything that really captured what
I wanted for them. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 says this. “We continually remember before our God and Father
your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our
Lord Jesus Christ.” This is my prayer for you. As you continue to move through your journey with Christ, I
pray that your faith produces work, love prompts labor and hope in Christ inspires endurance.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians
13:13) If youʼve ever been to a wedding, youʼve probably heard this line. itʼs a great happy ending to the
story isnʼt it? Letʼs add 1 Thessalonians 1:3 - “We continually remember before our God and Father your
work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord
Jesus Christ.” Now if you take both of those verses and put them side by side, it looks a little different
doesnʼt it? I think it would read something like this, “And now these three remain: faith that produces
work, hope in Christ that inspires endurance and love that prompts labor. but the greatest of these is love
that prompts labor.”
Does that change the meaning at all? When I read that, I donʼt think Iʼm taking 1 Cor. 13:13 as
challenging as it was meant to be. We have a tendency to remember the part that says, “but the greatest
of these is love” and forget what that means and the rest of the verse that directly precedes it. Iʼm not
going to spend a bunch of time beating you over the head and telling you why everything you do is wrong.
With so many differences in how churches are run, itʼs not possible to write up one outline, set it in stone
and expect everyone to follow it. There has to be a focus on the end result not as much about how we get
there or how good we are at the intermediate steps. Letʼs unpack this a little. Hereʼs three questions that
Iʼm prompted to ask based on that ﬁrst paragraph.
• What work is your faith producing?
• Is your hope in Christ inspiring endurance to get through the tough stuff?
• What labor is your love prompting?
Take some time in your group to talk about these three questions and any others that you may have. As a
group, take some time to pray that God would reveal either ways you are living our faith, hope and love or
what steps you need to take to get there.
This page is blank for you to jot down some things your thinking or that others may say that you want to
How do we move forward?
One of the great things about this process is that it can go as fast or as slow as you want it to. I
believe one of the most important things is to open up some conversation and help students begin to
communicate with each other. Sometimes, this can be the hardest
part. You may be surprised by who else may have the same
thoughts you do. Look, None of us have it all together and we
Here are the rules:
can all beneﬁt from hearing other ideas and opinions. Below is a
list of questions intended to help us discuss how you see faith 1.Youth can bring up any topic or ask
and what angle you are bringing to the group.
2.Teens don’t have to answer any
• What is the value of faith and why do you do it? question if they are uncomfortable with
• What does a Christian look like and how do they live their it.
lives? 3.If you do choose to answer, be as
• How does your spiritual life play into your daily life? honest as you can.
• Can you back up any of your answers biblically? 4.What we talk about here doesn’t get
talked about to other people.
What we arenʼt trying to do is prove each other wrong. I
listed 4 rules that I think are highly valuable as well. I think itʼs
more important to be honest than it is to throw out an answer you know people want to hear. Look back at
the above questions, did you give a truly honest answer to all of the questions?
Each week, or time you meet, set some sort of challenge that would help you live out your faith. It
doesnʼt have to be some radical challenge. It could be something simple like, less gossip or sitting with
“those kids” at lunch. It could be something tough like asking a friend you arenʼt really close to anymore
how you could pray for them and then actually praying for them. Students donʼt have to take the
challenge but if they do, make sure to try to hold them accountable to it.
what does a night look
What does a night look like? Isnʼt that the million dollar question. I love answering questions with
a question. What do you think it should look like? In fact, thatʼs the goal this time. First, letʼs start with a
few questions in your group.
• How did your walk with Christ go this week?
• Did you struggle with the challenge?
• Share a good/bad thing from this week or since Good thing, Bad thing is an
you were here last? easy exercise to get students
to be real. It’s easy to open up
Those questions may get you into some great
the ﬂoor and just say “Alright,
conversations that last a while and thatʼs ok. Every time you
does anyone have a good thing
meet, those are some general questions to help keep each other or bad thing from this past
in check. The point of this night is to start to ﬁgure out what this week or since you were here
group could look like. Get yourselves a stack of sticky notes. last?”
They will be tremendously helpful! If you could create a gathering
of some sort to work on and live out your faith, what would it look
like? Donʼt think of youth group or Bible studies because they often times have negative connotations that
go along with them. On sticky notes, write down your answers to the following questions and put them on
the wall or something in columns.
• What are you passionate about in your faith?
• If you could create an ideal gathering (not a bible study or youth group) what would it look like?
(size, attitudes, goals...)
After you get these up on the wall, take some time talking them through and remove the
duplicates. What did you end up with? What are the things youʼre passionate about in your faith and what
would your group look like? Here are the things that ended up on groups list most often.
1. Smaller, more intimate size
2. Food, snacks, meal
3. Build authentic relationships
4. Develop faith with other Christ followers
5. People who listen
6. Openness – able to share with each other (struggles, hurts)
7. Everybody loves each other
10. Develop a Christ-like attitude
12. Equality for everyone
13. Everyone participates
14. Christ honoring
15. Sharing our faith
Weʼve taken those 15 things and put them into 5 statements.
• We want smaller groups to build authentic relationships and which create the environment that
allows everyone to participate.
• We want to be a people who listen passionately.
• We want to love each other unselﬁshly. We demand equality, strive for openness that allows for
sharing of struggles, hurts and successes.
• We want to deepen our faith with other Christ-followers and honor Christ in all we do.
• We will strive to develop a Christ-like attitude, love each other, a focus on prayer, service and
sharing our faith.
In the back of this booklet is a form for you and your group to sign that says you desire to be held
to the standard laid out in those 5 standards while you are in one of these groups.
We believe that the Up (relationship with Christ)-In (relationships with those in the group)-Out
(relationships with those outside of our group) model of ministry is most effective. The above list, which
students created, brings all three aspects of this model together. This doesnʼt mean that every week has
all three parts in it. What it does mean is that each group should have all three elements fairly evenly
distributed. If a group is only a Bible study, social club or service team, it misses the complete picture.
Where’s the leader?
You may wonder why I haven’t mentioned adults yet. There’s a very good reason for that. You,
as a teen, are highly capable of doing most everything we’ve talked about so far. That being said, you
can be held responsible to those things, which is where the adult comes in. You’ve already said that you
want to be held accountable to those 5 statements and that one of the three main areas of focus in your
relationship with Christ. It is very important to have an adult who is more mature in their faith to help
guide you as you move in your faith.
Imagine for a second that you are staring at a 10 foot cliff that you need to climb. The leader has
two options. Either he climbs it ﬁrst and pulls you up or he helps support and encourage you as you
reach for the top. I prefer to see adult mentors as encourager/supporters. Along the way though, there
may be times that he/she will need to make a tough decision to remind you to continue being a Christ
follower as well as to keep you in check with the 5 statements.
Here are some other rules for the mentor.
Below are some general thoughts, ideas and suggestions as to what things weʼve found to work
best with students. What is most important to know is that these arenʼt things you absolutely have to do.
Theyʼve worked in many settings and ages but may not work the best for you so try them out and see
what the teens youʼre working with think about them too.
• The idea is to get people to open their minds and contribute without feeling like they have to give a
• Itʼs ok to nudge the conversation and keep it on track but our goal is more to listen and be support.
• Silence is completely ﬁne. There is a learning curve because, for the most part, youth are in situations
where they need to follow someone elseʼs lead or direction… school, church, sports, home, etc. so this
maybe something completely new to them.
• When students give answers, try not to shoot them down but thank and support them for answering.
• Although there is a basic framework, feel free to play with it. For instance, I didnʼt include speciﬁc times
to pray. I would hope there would be time for that at the beginning or end or both!
• Donʼt take this booklet as absolute. If students have questions as you go or if you think of something
that ﬁts well, go for it.
• One way to foster conversation is to ask open-ended questions. You may say “what do you think about
this statement – Faith is…” Also, instead of asking if they agree with you, you can ask why they agree
or disagree with you.
• One of the most frustrating things said is “I donʼt know” Many times, what students are really asking is “I
donʼt understand what you are asking.” You may be able to ask the group if there are others that “donʼt
know” and then, as a group, try to explain the question or conversation better.
• The mentor role is probably more similar to a shepherd than anything else. Each mentor can guide a
conversation and move it in a direction but canʼt make the sheep move. We want to empower youth to
actively pursue a relationship with Christ. Itʼs also like making a student study for a test. We can put the
book in front of them and make them stare at the page but beyond that, itʼs up to the student.
One of the things that I think teens “let” adults do is the teaching. Youth are highly capable of
reading, studying and praying about topics and initiating conversations that follow a thought. The adult
is a resource that can be leaned on but I truly believe that teens are capable enough to do it. The mentor
can provide great insight and wisdom that you may not have seen so I prefer that the teen meets with
the mentor to get feedback and understanding in ways they didn’t see.
I believe it is necessary for an adult to be a part of the group. I don’t see them as the leader of
the group though. I’ve said before that youth are fully capable of doing most all of the work by
themselves if given the chance. I think this is a great opportunity to do exactly that. The main role of the
mentor isn’t a teacher doing everything for you, a principal waiting for you to screw up or a parent ready
to tell you how to do things. The role of a mentor is to come along side students with like-minded
passions and help facilitate the best opportunities to grow toward Christ.
What’s so different?
Hereʼs what makes the group different. Normally, groups are based on friend groups, where
people live and age or grade. These groups are built around a common passion. You may be in a position
where you donʼt have any clue what your passion is. Thatʼs ok. Part of the goal is to provide an
atmosphere where you are free to give things a try and see what you like. Hereʼs a few questions to help
you get started.
• What am I passionate about?
• What type of person comes to mind when you think of serving?
• If money wasnʼt an issue, what would you love to get up everyday and do to show Christ to
• To what types of people is life not fair?
• If Christ came to your school, who would he sit with, talk to and help?
• What do you get excited about when you think about your faith?
• What things in your life would you want to help people not repeat?
• What needs are there in your community?
As we talked about in the beginning, this is a loose framework. Every group should look a little
different within this framework. The ultimate goal is to continually become more Christ-like, itʼs not to
perfect this model. In the next session, weʼre going to get into what being Christ-like looks like.
As a group, come up with a challenge for the week. In what way, will you show Christ to those
As weʼve mentioned before, itʼs good to have a few questions just to open up conversation to
learn more about the people in your group. Here again are some of the ones we use.
• How were you challenged in your faith this week?
• good thing/ bad thing
• Did you complete the challenge this week? How did it go?
• Have you tried to continue any of the past challenges?
• What are you learning about Christ and your relationship with him?
One of the things on the list of 15 was prayer. Prayer can happen at any time. If someone needs
prayer about something, feel free to break from what you are doing and pray for them.
How was your week? Good thing, Bad thing.
How did your walk with Christ go this week? Any struggles?
This meeting may be a little more intense for students. For some, it may be completely upside-down from
what they know, asking some questions they may take personally. Again, the goal is to provoke thought
and conversation among the group. Like any of the other meetings, feel free to take your time and let it
span a few weeks. This week is very open. The hope is that these questions are new and will need a little
time to think about and discuss.
• If you were to add up all of the “churchy” things you are a part of each week, how many things would
make your list? Circle the ones that are most important to you.
• What are a few of the ones that are most beneﬁcial? What makes them beneﬁcial?
• What if you didnʼt do the ones that are least beneﬁcial?
• If you take away the “churchy” things, what is left to your faith?
• On your own, what do you do grow in your faith or to become more Christ-like?
• Does your life show that you are you willing to become like Jesus?
• What does it mean to be more like Jesus? Any thoughts?
Many times, students
Look at your life for a minute without all of the things
feel like they are
you go and sit through for Jesus. If you look at your life productive if they are busy.
and the way you live and the things you do, how are you any The more they do or are in
different than anyone else in the way you daily live your life? What for Jesus, the more
sets you apart? Christian they are. What
we want to focus on is
living an active Christ-like
Challenge: This week, take a look at how well you live like Christ.
life, not a passive, sit and
Pray that He would reveal ways in which you live for Him as well listen Christian.
as ways you donʼt.
to serve, love and communicate
Isnʼt that what it means to be Christ-like? The better we can serve, love and communicate the Gospel, the
more closely we will follow Him. Next we want to take a look at a list of characteristics of Christ. This isnʼt
an exhaustive list but should give us a pretty good idea as to what it we should be striving for if we desire
to become more like Christ. Feel free to spend some time before you go over this list brainstorming as a
group what you think of when you think of characteristics of Christ. Compare lists and add ones you have
to this list.
Compassionate Approachable Spirit-led Simple
Humble Perceiving Discerning Self-denying
Firm Gentle Self-controlled Content
Loving Giving Sexually pure Uncompromising
Prayerful Faithful Forgiving Servant oriented
Submissive Empathetic Disciplined Gracious
Truthful Sincere Caring
Bold Merciful Thankful
Joyful Flexible Patient
Write these down so that everyone can see them. Take some time to be a little vulnerable. Have each
student share one of them that they do well and then allow other students to encourage them with other
characteristics they see in that student.
In the same way, give each student an opportunity to share one or two characteristics that can be a
struggle. If they are willing to be really vulnerable, allow other students an opportunity to share one that
they see that could be holding them back from growing closer to Christ.
CHALLENGE: Take one of the characteristics from above that isnʼt as strong and try to focus on making
steps to improve that one this week. One idea would be to brainstorm with the group how to work on your
characteristic this week. Make it happen in your life and put effort towards following God in this particular
Failure and empowerment
Good thing/ Bad thing
How did your challenge go?
Failure. Itʼs a word that no one likes to hear... especially if itʼs about us. Is failure valuable? I
wanted to take some time to address failure because it will happen. This is most likely a new concept still
and there are some kinks to get worked out. What happens when things go wrong? What do you do when
you are planning a project or reaching out to a group of peers at school and it all goes downhill? One of
the hardest things to do has been to watch teens fail. Could I, or your mentor, step in and do everything
so you donʼt fail? Of course! But that wouldnʼt allow you to learn from how to take ownership in your own
faith. Itʼs easy for an adult to make sure none of the teens ever fail. They just have to do everything for
them! I think failure if crucial. Let me come back to this after I talk about empowerment.
Empowerment. I believe that youth can be empowered to step up and “BE” easier than most
demographics. Teens want value and to be appreciated and to know that they are doing things for a
reason. One of the shining moments for me is when I see a teen understand empowerment. You may say
you do but something happens when you actually see that you can be responsible and be a part of
successes... as well as failures.
Dealing with failure, I think it would be a good time to talk a little about faith, mercy and grace.
• What is faith?
• What is mercy? A basic deﬁnition of mercy could be ”not getting what we
• What is grace? deser ve” and grace could be “receiving something we aren’t
• What do you know worthy of”. I had a student deﬁnite of mercy as “mercy is
biblically about any of when we sin and God doesn’t kill us.” Let students try to ﬂush
out a few answers and begin to understand these topics.
those three words?
4. MAKE IT HAPPEN
Hopefully youʼve been able to see how and why we are doing this. We want to help you get there
but not do it for you. Think of it this way, you are looking at a cliff and you canʼt get there alone. There is
someone there who can either stand on the cliff and pull you up, or could tell you where to grab on and
support you on your journey. The adults are trying to have that second role. They could to the work for
you and pull you up but itʼs so much better to help you get there.
One mindset that seems to get overlooked that I think can be very important is a focus on being
proactive in faith vs. reactive. A few weeks ago, the focus was on beginning to align our lives more closely
with that of Christ. You could decide to be sincere (proactive) or less sarcastic (reactive). A few more
examples would be sexually pure (proactive) vs. less promiscuous (reactive) and patient (proactive)
instead of getting angry less (reactive).
You may not see a difference but I think it is a mental shift from the norm. We should be
proactively looking for ways to live more like Christ as opposed to trying to change how we react to our
attitudes, experiences and sinful ways.
So now we look to whatʼs next. Below are a few ideas to discuss but when it comes down to it,
follow where God is leading.
• Get together over a meal each week.
• Find a ministry in your community that your group is passionate about and ﬁnd ways to invest in the
lives of those they reach.
• Each week, give a different student ownership of whatʼs being taught. Use this as an opportunity to
meet with them one-on-one (same gender) and mentor them.
• If your group is made up of students from different churches, talk about what you learned that week in
• Spend one week only praying for each other. Try the same with worship or Bible study or even going to
the mall and having fun as a group.
• Remember to ﬁnd ways to continually live out your faith.
• Split up guys and girls for a few weeks or once a month to give some time for accountability.
We want smaller groups to build authentic relationships and
which create the environment that allows everyone to
We want to be a people who listen passionately.
We want to love each other unselﬁshly. We demand equality,
strive for openness that allows for sharing of struggles, hurts
We want to deepen our faith with other Christ-followers and
honor Christ in all we do.
We will strive to develop a Christ-like attitude, love each
other, and focus on prayer, service and sharing our faith.
1. What is your all-time favorite meal? It doesnʼt have to be from one meal. What is your
all-time favorite main dish, side dish, desert and drink. Try to stay away from
2. What was your favorite childhood cartoon?
3. What Disney cartoon character best describes you? Why?
4. What fruit best describes you? Why?
5. If you could have any superpower, what would you choose? Why?
6. What is your favorite Christmas present ever? Worst?
7. What would you do if I gave you $100,000 right now? (give or receive)
8. If you could go anywhere in the world for 3 days where would you go?
9. What are you passionate about?
10.What are your top two pet peeves?
11.What non-family member has had an impact your life the most?
12.If you could only eat one color of candy for the rest of your life, what would it be?
13.When you go on a road trip, are there foods that you have to get every time?
Sara and Chelsea
Purpose: To be a catalyst for growth toward or with God through opportunity, experience and
Mission: (Why are we doing this? What impact do we want to make?)
• Our mission is to reach girls who have realized their brokenness and have a strong desire for
change; and to empower them to be motivated and active in their faith.
Vision: (Where are we going?)
Passion: (What drives us?)
• Living out a true faith and holding each other accountable to it.
• Smaller, more intimate size • Prayer
• Food, snacks, meal • Develop a Christ-like attitude
• Build authentic relationships • Unselﬁsh
• Develop faith with other Christ followers • Equality for everyone
• People who listen • Everyone participates
• Openness – able to share with each other • Christ honoring
(struggles, hurts) • Sharing our faith
• Everybody loves each other
Plan for Growth:
• Add students comfortably, knowing that groups are ﬂuid and meant to grow and shrink, have
highs and lows.
• From the beginning the leaders are training others by example and through conversation in
anticipation of multiplying.
• As groups get to 15-20, multiplication is discussed. When teams are sent out to begin new
groups, there should be two leaders in each; one who has been leading and one who is being
• Not every group will grow at the same pace.
• High accountability/low control
• Based on passion and desire to live out your faith.
• Groups are not necessarily designed around the age and gender.