Making Room for Spiritually Hungry Students

By Doug Franklin May 28, 2020

I think most youth ministries are based on the assumption that students don’t want to know more about God, so we package youth group to be a lot of fun with a little bit of God.

But what if we were wrong and students were spiritually hungry, they just didn’t know how to communicate that to us? Or what if our actions have conditioned them to think entertainment first, spiritual truth last?

I believe, now more than ever, that students are spiritually hungry and want to know about who God is, why he loves us, and how to have a relationship with him.

Here are some signs your students want to go deeper with God:

  • They question creation and the world as we know it
  • They’re frustrated when other students don’t take small group seriously
  • Continuing rather than derailing the discussion
  • A sense of awe or wonder about God
  • They ask questions about paradoxes in Scripture
  • A curiosity about prayer
  • They seek one-on-one time with adults

Is there room in your ministry for a student who is spiritually hungry? Have you identified adults who are prepared to minister to these students, and is there room in your programming for them to have time to explore all their questions about God?

I believe it’s time to create space in our youth ministry calendar for students who want to go deep. A time for them to move past the stories of Sunday School to the thread of God’s love that is woven throughout the Old and New Testaments. A chance for them to understand the sacraments of baptism, communion, and the call to discipleship. A place for them to wrestle with justification, sanctification, and grace.

Some churches and adults will question your approach because they believe the old formula of lots of fun and a little God is just common sense. It’s ok for them to question, but you can’t let it keep you from diving deep with students. A new paradigm will only be created if youth workers take risks and break out of the watered-down youth ministry.

Five years ago at LeaderTreks, we started the Deep Discipleship curriculum focused on eight core principles found in the Gospels. It’s an in-depth curriculum designed to help students move beyond biblical literacy to a commitment to walk in obedience to Jesus.

Sales started slowly, but in the past two years we have seen so many churches reaching out to find out why we created this curriculum and if it would it be right for their students. The responses have overwhelmed us—after all, you don’t make curriculum for the few, you make it for the broadest audience possible.

I believe a passion is growing in youth workers for the sacred and the meaningful, and we wrote Deep Discipleship to meet that need.

For students to want a deeper understanding of God, we need to lead them. We must challenge their thinking, engage with them in the study of Scripture, and we must model for them a deeper desire for obedience.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More