As the norms of our society move farther away from what God wants from us, it can be confusing for young people to know what a Christian life actually looks like in “real life”. Many young people are increasingly being raised more by nannies, day care centers, schools, and coaches than their parents.
Christian adults often assume the behaviors God expects us to have in our life are “common sense” for anyone who has a heart that belongs to God. Imagine yourself as a teen though, who has just had a lesson on managing conflict in godly ways. Sounds great, but his parents scream, curse and say all manor of horrid things when they are in conflict. How will he know how to actually handle conflict in godly ways?
Perhaps the teacher has gone a step farther and explained that some specific behaviors in conflict aren’t godly. Maybe the adult even went on to explain conflicts should be “worked through” by talking and negotiating. That helps clear the picture a bit, but the teen in question can still have no idea how to actually do those things.
We have developed a Living the Christian Life teen curriculum based on the concept that young people need someone in their lives to teach them the Christian Life Skills God wants them to have as they live their lives. We aren’t ignoring the importance of the heart, but the best of intentions aren’t helpful if you don’t know how to replace ungodly habits with godly ones – or even what those would be and how to do them.
At the moment, we have thirty lessons online, with more to come in the next few months. The lessons take longer than the standard one hour or less class period. Young people need time to practice these skills you are teaching them. Don’t rush through the lessons if your students need extra coaching. (Don’t slow them down too much allowing teens to become bored, either!)
If you teach children, many of these lessons could easily be adapted for upper elementary students. The complete cycle should take four years to teach (at a rate of approximately two hours per week). Rather than spending too much time on any one lesson, why not consider doing a brief cycle during 5th through 8th grade and a more intense cycle during high school? This will give students time to process and use the material multiple times at different developmental levels. It also improves the chances the Christian Life Skills will be incorporated into their adult lives.
You may choose to teach your students Christian Life Skills another way, and that’s great! Just make sure they are learning the skills somewhere. It’s hard to obey God when you literally have no idea what that looks like in your own life.