Learning the Language: Habit-Forming Communities (Part 3)

Steven Johnson | Aug 7, 2009

Habits are funny, because whether good or bad, they develop slowly through every choice we make. When it comes to developing Christian habits in students the process looks very similar: it starts with trying to encourage students to make good choices first in the small things. These habits will start to become transformative in the lives of students as they become not only a part of their daily lives, but a part of who they are as they develop into adults.

Habits are created through doing. As youth leaders it is important to give students opportunities to develop habits. This means creating times of prayer for students where they can talk with God, be in silence, creating times where students can serve others, and creating times where students are asked to be in the Word of God. Offering opportunities for these practices also allows students to experiment with their habits and hone them in the context of community.

In a way Christian discipleship and habit-forming is like learning a new language. When first learning a language you practice over and over again and it feels uncomfortable and foreign. But over a long time and a lot of practice, the language can become second nature: you just know it without thinking about it. In the same way, the process of habit-forming encourages the believer to form a new way of being. Over time, without having to think about acting Christianly, they just do because it has become who they are for where they are in their developmental process. Discipleship takes place within Christian community over a lifetime. A youth ministry only has students for 6 to 7 years of their life at best. The goal of a habit-forming community isn’t to “wrap it up,” but to start students in a process of creating Christian habits that will be formed throughout their lives.

Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson is currently serving as High School Director at Bellevue Presbyterian Church in Washington. He is a 2009 MDiv graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary with a concentration in Youth, Family, and Culture. Steve also speaks at local youth conferences and is passionate about helping teens encounter God, see themselves as a vital part of the church, and train them to manifest the Kingdom of God.


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