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The Biggest Barrier To Teens Living Out Their Faith?

Do you find yourself desiring that your students were making a bigger impact for God and His Kingdom? I would guess that at least on some level, this is true for all of us.

So . . . why aren’t they? Why aren’t your students living more bold and dynamic faith-lives? I have an idea. I believe the main reason students don’t live as powerfully as they could can be boiled down to one simple idea . . .


I think in the current culture our students are growing up in, image rules in a way it has never before. I see most students obsessed with their image. They want people to think they have it all together. That they are completely cool and in control. That they’re perfectly expressing themselves using the right words and expressions (i.e., the words and expressions their friends use). It’s WAY more than how they look. Some days it seems like it’s It’s 100% complete image control on the level of a professional PR firm! The stakes are too high if they don’t. Word (and images) travels fast via text messages and Facebook updates.

Many students don’t seem to want to offend, or seem like they’re holding an opinion outside what would be considered mainstream or “normal.” Which is a pretty big barrier to living a bold faith life.

After all, people who live impassioned lives for Christ can make others uncomfortable. They can be overly-excited. They can be easily painted as small-minded or narrowly-focused. Let’s be honest: convictions just ain’t that cool.

But here’s the deal. We’re called by Christ to live our lives in radical submission to Him. Regardless of how this sets us against our culture.

Think about it. Think of the people in Scripture who stood up against the tide of culture and who sacrificed their image to do so . . . all for the sake of God.

  • Isaiah walked around nude for three years.
  • Ezekiel made a spectacle of himself in public.
  • Daniel risked everything for the sake of holiness.
  • Hosea married a prostitute.
  • John the Baptist lived in the desert and ate bugs.
  • The Disciples went against every norm of their day’s leading religious culture.
  • Paul subjected himself to beating and ridicule, making himself an enemy of his own people.

ALL of these men did so because God had called them to serve Him with their lives. They did so without regard for how they looked to the world around them. And all of them had an amazing impact for the Kingdom.

Now, if you tell your students to walk around nude in their schools ala Isaiah, that’s on you. But, I would challenge you to consider having this discussion with your students. I’d love to hear their responses to the following question: Do you care more about your image, about what others think of you, than you do about living your life on mission for God?

My hunch is that if they are honest, many do care more image than they care about making a difference for God. Some of this is probably an inherent part of their life stage. But part of it is a real barrier you can help them overcome.

Image should never stand in the way of living a dynamic life for Christ.

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Andy Blanks is the co-founder of youthministry360, a ministry committed to equipping youth workers through resources, training, community, and networking. Andy is passionate about God’s Word and the transformation it brings in the lives of God’s people. Andy is a writer, teacher, speaker, and a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan. He lives in Birmingham, AL with his wife and three daughters. Check out Andy’s youth ministry posts on the ym360 Blog (www.youthministry360.com/blog).