By: Todd Lowans

I was a bad kid. Seriously. When I was younger they just said I had a lot of energy, you know the ADHD kid. I was also a pastor’s kid so there were a lot of expectations on how I should act. I was to sit quietly and respectfully in service, always have the right answer in Sunday school and basically float around all the time due to my holiness. Thankfully my parents didn’t put these expectations on me, others did, but I got really good at fulfilling them. I could do the Jesus thing, I could change my behavior and be a better person. I could give the right answers and ultimately I could live a much more moralistic standard of life.

A few years into being a Campus Life director I realized that I was fostering those types of behavior in my students’ lives. My thought was that if I could just get students to like acting like a Christian, then maybe they would become one. Sounds crazy but many of the things we do foster just that kind of culture. Many times I (we) default to teaching the Bible in a way that focuses on the behavior rather than the relationship with Christ.

For instance, when teaching on not judging others we could go to the story in John 8 of the adulterous woman and say what might naturally make sense: “Jesus didn’t judge her, He forgave her and so should we.” Makes sense right? It’s not anti-biblical or anything. It’s a real biblical truth. Here’s the thing though, our mission isn’t to make lost kids everywhere better people it’s raise up lifelong followers of Jesus... how does teaching kids to not judge others get us closer to that? It doesn’t. But this does: “Jesus knows everyone messes up yet He didn’t judge this woman. He showed her kindness and pointed her to a new way of life. Jesus can help you with not judging others as well. He helps us realize we all have messed up, yet we can all come to Him for forgiveness.”

You see, we always need to be pointing students to Jesus, not better behavior or anything else for that matter. Here’s an easy question to ask to help you do this better when teaching the Bible to students: “What difference does a relationship with Christ make in a student’s life with regards to this topic?” Not, “What does Scripture say about gossip, love, anger...” but “What difference does a relationship with Jesus make.” It’s actually really simple and helps us consistently point kids to Jesus and not just better behavior.


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