Have you ever had a student who seemed to have a transformative insight in your small group or one on one time only to see them stuck in the same pattern the next week? Maybe you’ve experienced that yourself, where you had conversation or listened to a sermon that rocked your world, but didn’t change how you lived.
Why is that? What keeps a student stuck in their ways and as a small group leader, how can you help them become “unstuck”?
Three Flawed Views of Life Transformation
Information = Transformation
This is the view that if we just get God’s truth in front of students, they’ll realize they are wrong need and make a change. While God’s truth is essential to life change, simply giving students a verse isn’t enough to make life change happen. People don’t change due to a lack of information. They need an encounter with truth that changes how they see the world (their values) and impacts their everyday lives. As a leader you can help a student by showing them the implications of that truth for their life right now.
Emotions = Transformation
This is the view that life change happens when our heart is affected by truth. Too often we think that our job is done once we’ve gotten a student to feel something powerful. We hope that they have a lightbulb moment in our small group that will lead to life change. Do we want to engage the heart and help them see core heart issues? Absolutely! The problem is that if we don’t follow up a lightbulb moment with a call to action/response, then we’re communicating that emotions are the goal. They end up getting addicted to these lightbulb moments where emotions, not life change, are the ultimate goal of the Christian life.
Doing = Transformation
This is the view that if we just get students to act the way we want them to, then the rest will follow along. So we focus on application and challenges. Do we want a practical, lived out faith? Of course we do. The problem is that our actions should come from what’s happening within. When students perform actions without the right motivation, then their relationship with God becomes an obligation and they will end up resenting God and the church.
So what do students need to become unstuck?
One way to think of life transformation is this. Students need…Truth, Tension, and A Path
Truth that confronts the way they see themselves and the God. We choose just any truth to put in front of our students. We choose the truths of God that they need right now to create a new awareness about God, themselves and their world.
Tension to experience the difference between who they are and who they want to become. We don’t resolve the internal turmoil too quickly. When we answer questions or give solutions too soon, then we miss out on our students taking ownership of the new truths they’re encountering. Tension is ESSENTIAL to ownership.
A Path to connect their actions to who God is calling them to be. As you walk with a teenager, it’s important that you connect the truth and the tension with a tangible action plan as a response. If we fail to provide a way to response, we’re missing a key part of transformation because we fail to see that truth should be lived.
Take away
1.     Which of these is the least present in your small group?
2.     Do you skip the truth and go straight for heart talk or application?
3.     Are you engaging the mind, but not the heart or hands?
4.     Is your small group all talk and no walk?
Maybe it’s time for you to shift the conversation to better set the stage for real life transformation to happen. Thanks for all you do to invest in students. It’s a thrill to be with you on this ride!