Advice To a Former Student

One of the joys of student ministry is that, sometimes, we get to see the results of our labor. This isn't always immediate. In fact, most of the time, it takes years.

One former student of mine is now a youth pastor himself! (This makes me feel both immensely proud and incredibly old.) Of course, every student chooses their own path.

I got a message from one of my former students a few weeks ago saying that, in recent years, he had "fallen out of faith" and asking for some advice on how to begin the spiritual growth process again.

What I wrote him isn't revolutionary, but I thought I'd share it here just in case you had a similiar situation.
Here's the deal. There's no magic formula for growing closer to God. What God desires from us is a RELATIONSHIP with Him. So, think about it this way: You've got all kinds of relationships. Friends, family, girlfriend, etc. How do you grow closer to any of them? You spend TIME with them! Right? 
It works the same with God.  You have to spend time with Him. Now, having said that, there's really three GREAT ways to do that.  
1) Read God's Word. I can't stress enough how important this is. This is the primary way that God reveals Himself to us. It's an important habit to develop and practice EVERYDAY! If you need a tool to do this, check out www.youversion.com. They've got some GREAT reading plans that can help (and that you can use on your android or iPhone). I recommend starting with a small one like just the book of John first.
2) PRAY! Talk to God! Ask Him to reveal Himself to you! Tell Him your feelings! Tell Him your hopes. Your fears! Ask Him to help  you by giving you a deeper desire to know Him! PS, prayer is a conversation. Conversations involve talking AND listening. So don't forget to listen for Him to speak to you. (Guess how He primarily speaks? Yup. Through His Word.)
3) Find a church where you can find community. We're not meant to do life by ourself. We need accountability, encouragement, and prayer. We also need people that are smarter than us and are farther along in their relationship with God to help guide us. (Is this sounding like a small group to you?) Find a local church to invest in.

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