The Difference Between Faith and Trust
Youth ministries exist to help disciple students, to help our teen’s faith to deepen and mature. But how does this happen? What are some of the keys to faith formation? Many of us provide answers like:
- Parents and other adult mentors passing on the faith.
- Students being a part of multi-generational worship experiences.
- Teaching students to be spiritual self-feeders.
- Students going on mission and service trips.
All of these are essential aspects of helping students grow in their faith. And let me suggest that trusting in God is also one of the primary vehicles God uses to deepen and strengthen faith.
“Trusting in God is also one of the primary vehicles God uses to deepen and strengthen faith.”
A New Understanding
People often think faith and trust are two terms that are cut from the same cloth. I even used to tell my students. “FAITH is the Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him.” In my brain, the words were practically interchangeable.
Thanks to Charles Blondin, I now know better.
Charles Blondin gained worldwide fame in the summer of 1859 as the first person to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Not only did he make it across successfully, he went on to cross several other times, each time adding new elements to his act. On one such trip he crossed pushing a wheelbarrow. The crowd of spectators had plenty of faith in his abilities. They’d seen him successfully traverse the falls multiple times, and when he reached the other side, Charles asked a simple question, “”Who believes I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?” The crowd immediately responded with hoots and hollers and affirmative encouragement. “Okay,” Blondin then said, “Who wants to get in the wheelbarrow?”
A Look in the Good Book
A lot of us treat God the same way. We have faith. We believe God is in control, but when we’re asked to “get in the wheelbarrow,” we look the other way, pretending not to hear.
In Matthew 13, Jesus taught “The Parable of the Sower” to His followers. He explained that the seed that fell on rocky ground and the seed that fell among the thorns failed to bear fruit because of the worries and troubles of this life. Both sets of seed had faith. They heard the Word and received it with joy. They were simply unfruitful. They didn’t grow in their faith; their faith was weak.
“They didn’t grow in their faith; their faith was weak. They didn’t grow because they didn’t trust.”
They didn’t grow because they didn’t trust. The Bible is full of stories of people of faith, both weak and strong. David took five stones to face Goliath. Gideon kept asking for signs. Joshua marched around Jericho. Saul took matters into his own hands, instead of waiting for Samuel. In the end, those who grew strong in their faith were the ones trusted enough to “get in the wheelbarrow.” They responded to the words of God with obedience, even in the face of uncertainty.
How it Impacts Ministry
If we really want our students to deepen their faith, we’ve got to equip them to “get in the wheelbarrow.” And we can do this in a variety of ways. Here are three examples that I’ve utilized in my own ministry.
1.) Trust Verse of the Week: I’ve started including a verse on trust during the announcement portion of our weekly gatherings. I have our students say it aloud with me. It’s a quick dose of God’s truth, and then we move on. This way my students regularly are reminded of our need to trust in God, regardless of the topic for the night.
2.) Give Students Real Responsibility: Learning goes to a whole new level when students actually take on the mantle of leadership. Students feel the weight of responsibility when they’re tasked with meaningful and important work. Find opportunities within your own ministry to unleash the power of leadership laboratories. Create safe environments for students to fail. They’ll learn to trust God more when they have to depend on Him to succeed.
“Students will learn to trust God more when they have to depend on Him to succeed.”
3.) Surround Your Students With Mentors: We need to recognize that our students endure trials and storms regularly. They get in fights with their parents. Their best friend talks about them behind their back. They get jealous after looking at another student’s Instagram posts. At times, the storms they face are even heavier. Their parents divorce. A close friend or relative passes away. They suffer from mental, emotional or physical ailments. In these moments, we’ve got to be present. We’ve got to be there, helping them learn to trust God in the midst of the storm.
If we start to do these things, we’ll start seeing a lot more students “get in the wheelbarrow” and trust Jesus with their lives.
About the Author
Jeremy Hetzel is the Director of Student Ministries at Family of Christ in Colorado Springs, CO. He loves reading, spending quantity and quality time with his family, and following his favorite sports teams (Boston Red Sox, San Antonio Spurs, and whichever fantasy team he’s managing at the time).