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Beyond our Preference to Christ’s Purpose
Have you noticed that ads are getting weirder and weirder? Companies spend tons of money on marketing as everyone tries to figure out the next clever way to shout, “THIS IS WHAT I’M ALL ABOUT!” Honestly, we’re no different. We want people to think of us in certain ways: the fun one, the goofy one, or the smart one. It turns out Jesus wants the world to think of Christians in a certain way too.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
Jesus’ words leave no wiggle room; people should recognize us because of our love for one another—because of our unity. Sound cliché? The truth is that living this way isn’t easy. But there’s good news! Jesus has a purpose for our unity, and he holds us together even when it’s hard. When we understand why God calls us to unity and what it looks like, we’ll find a reason to come together that goes beyond our preferences.
Outsiders Welcome. From the time we are little kids, we learn how to put things in boxes. From toys that separate shapes and colors, to finding people to hang out with that share the same likes and dislikes. We label the world around us (Star Wars fans, soccer players, musicians, etc.) and choose to spend time with people who fit into the same boxes we do. We gravitate toward the boxes that we’re comfortable with.
But what about the people who don’t fit into our boxes? We don’t share a lot in common with them, we don’t run into them at the same places, and it doesn’t always feel comfortable to talk with them. It’s easiest to avoid interacting with these people—making them feel like an outsider. The only problem is that God’s family isn’t just for people who fit into our boxes, it’s for everyone.
When our students choose to follow Christ, God promises that they are a new creation
as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17. But often, they will probably feel frustrated that things aren’t going the way they thought they would be. You might hear things like, “Jesus said he would always be with me once I follow him, why can’t I feel it?” Or maybe, “I thought that when I followed Jesus that I wouldn’t have to worry about those bad thoughts going through my mind anymore.” It can be very confusing for someone who is brand new in his or her commitment to follow Jesus.
RENEW is designed to help your students find answers to those questions.
Fortunately, when God promises something, we can count on it. And Mark 12:30, the verse we are focusing on in this DNow event, can help. While your student is a child of God, our journey of following Christ never ends. Our focus will be on how we as Christ followers can follow him with everything we have—our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
John 3:16 is one of those verses many students have grown numb to.
From Sunday school to bumper stickers, sermons to football games, this verse makes a lot of appearances. And quite frankly, it has good reason to show up as much as it does. The entire story of the universe culminates in this verse, clearly laying out the mystery of God’s rescue plan. It describes how much God loves us, the effects of our sin on the world and our relationship with God, Jesus’ rescue mission to reconnect us with God, and what our lives should look like after following Jesus.
EVERLASTING is designed to help your students go back to the basics.
John 3:16 shows us what it takes to cut through the noise, to live life to the fullest with God forever, to have life everlasting.
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. –Micah 6:8
God doesn’t leave us to wander through life without any directions. He has given us a set of expectations to show us clearly which paths will take us where we need to go. One important thing to know about God’s expectations: they can’t be faked. They have to start with serious heart transformation that only comes from knowing Jesus Christ.
Act. Love. Walk. Three signs that we are being transformed from the inside out by Jesus. Three signs to point your students squarely in the direction that God wants them to go. Act.Love.Walk is designed to help your student navigate what it means to follow God with all of their heart.
Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Matthew 20:26–28
If your students are like most people, they probably think service is a good idea, something everyone should do more often. But serving doesn’t necessarily make someone a servant.
Becoming a servant is so much more than that. It’s something that happens as we follow Christ and become more like him. We start seeing the world the way he does. We start responding to things as he would. Service is a Christ-follower’s automatic response to the pain and injustice in the world around us. Project Serve is designed to help your students transform from people who serve on occasion into committed servants like Christ.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” — Matthew 16:24
There is a craving in our world for realness. The buzzword “authentic” is a buzzword for a reason. We want the people we do life with to be authentic. We want the brands and movements we support to be authentic. We want the experiences and encounters we have to be what they are supposed to be.
But what about our faith? Living out a faith that is true and real in today’s world? It’s about being a follower. A Christ-follower.
Teach Follower and help your teens understand what real faith looks like and how to live it out.
“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”—Eph 2:4-5
In every exchange, something must be given up in order for something to be gained. At the heart of the Gospel there is a single, powerful exchange that occurred when a flawless Savior took the flaws of humanity to the cross, exchanging His life for ours.
But this one exchange actually empowers countless exchanges in the lives of those who will believe and follow.
Exchange will help your students to see the Gospel and its impact on their lives through the lens of these exchanges.
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children …”–Ephesians 5:1
The concept of imitation is at work all around us. From fashion and technology, to movies and TV shows, imitation is everywhere. It’s alive and well in us, too.
So much of who we are is influenced by other people. In a sense, we are who we imitate. But by imitating the only One worthy of imitation, we can discover an incredibly powerful and positive life.
Building off Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:1-2, Imitator challenges students to live the life of a God-imitator, helping them understand what this looks like in the world they live in.
“I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”–Psalm 119:10-11
Generation Multitask. It’s a fitting label for an overcommitted, over-entertained generation. School, sports, clubs, work, friends, family, church . . . Teenagers are more involved and committed than any group of teenagers before them. It’s no wonder that teenagers find it so difficult finding time to cultivate a relationship with Christ. They have to make time.
Do your students know how to seek God?
The Pause will teach students to “hit pause” and spend time growing their relationship with God.