It’s a new year which means new habits right? I know that if our students are going to grow in their faith they are going to have to develop some spiritual habits. I have recently re-written my S.W.E.A.T Club small group material because of some well deserved, constructive  criticism I received from another youth worker who I consider pretty smart. Beside the fact that my grammar and typeo’s screamed  “Is this guy kidding?” . The language and the format were very check list oriented which is, I think, the main barrier to why people (youth and adults)  don’t pursue developing their relationship with God in the first place.

Although we call them spiritual disciplines or habits, we can let the “check list mentality” creep into our walk with God by becoming legalistic about it. I think we can agree that the goal of starting spiritual disciplines in the first place is to create a deeper intimacy with God, our Savior, not to keep a list like a bunch of Pharisees. Jesus came to get rid of the man made, law based barriers to knowing HIM and if we want our our kids to develop these habits we have to remove these barriers to get them to even try.

Barrier #1 You’re not doing it right

I think back to watching  Sponge Bob trying to teach Squidward how to blow a bubble. Spongebob focused on teaching technique instead of just let Squidward enjoy blowing bubbles. This is the full episode sped up.

We can spend a lot of time on technique of spiritual habits while our kids are missing the joy and the point  of why they are developing this habit in the first place.

 Barrier # 2 You don’t have the right tools (Bible, etc) 

Not only can we focus too much on technique, we can focus to much on having the right tool. The right “tools” could be: the right Bible , the right journal, or the right place and time to practice the habit. We have to get over the fact that no man can create the “perfect” curriculum or the perfect tool to help our kids and while we are waiting on our denomination or the Christian booksellers to develop these “perfect” tools our kids may be missing out. If you can’t find “perfect”, write it yourself.

Barrier # 3 Low Expectations

Many youth pastor’s just don’t believe their kids will do any kind of spiritual discipline so they stick with what keeps them coming like games and events. The problem is not with our kids, it’s with us if we don’t believe that teaching, preaching, and creating space to practice the basic spiritual disciplines that will grow their faith. In the end it really serves us to do this because it will  grow mature kids who can then lead within our group, in time. We should at least offer them the opportunity to grow. Set the table, ring the bell, and see who shows up for dinner.

Barrier # 4 Lack of models. 

My friend Tim shares a story, in his new book Youth Pastor Manifesto, about an NBA player he got to know and he asks him what brought him to the Lord and he responded, (and I paraphrase) “Watching my dad read his Bible every morning, Seeing that, I was sold” Many of our students have no good models to watch read their Bible, pray, quote scripture, share their faith, encourage each other, etc. This is where we can can help and equip parents to be those models. We can offer family devotions as a supplement to our lessons or set up a resource table where resources and be grabbed. I can see you shaking your head now, “They won’t do it Paul”. It’s not on us if they don’t take it, it’s on us if we don’t offer it to them.

If you are looking for some lessons on developing spiritual habits for your kids I have re-written my small group material called The S.W.E.A.T Club and it is not perfect, but it will as least get the conversation started. You can click HERE to check it out.

Which of these barriers are stopping your kids from developing the spiritual habits which will grow their faith?

Did I miss a barrier? What is getting in the way of your kids developing spiritual habits?


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