5 Rules for a Rule of Life with Youth

Rule of Life

A rule of life is a guide for living a life that is consistent with your beliefs and values.  It is a way for a person or a community to organize their daily life.  Often a personal rule of life is short and describes big convictions and specific practices that a person will do to express those convictions.  An community rule of life can be both short (1 page) or long (a book) and can include things like description of the roles for people in the community, the central beliefs of the community, and a set of daily, weekly, and monthly practices which will guide the community.

Personal Rule of Life and Youth Ministry

Several youth ministries incorporate a personal rule of life into the discipleship of teens.  Youth workers who do this recognize the value a personal rule of life has for teens who are attempting to life questions of idenity, purpose and belong in a constant shifting culture that offers them a new answer everyday.  The rule of life offers teens a guide to navigate the continual changes they will experience not only as an adolescent but also as an adult.

5 Rules for a Personal Rule of Life with Youth

  1. Honesty is more important than orthodoxy – You are attempting to get students to express their convictions and beliefs not the church’s.  So if you are going to develop a personal of life with youth then you need to shoot for honesty rather than orthodoxy in their statements on their belief about God, humanity, and the future.
  2. Longevity is a necessity – Your goal for using a personal rule of life with youth should include equipping them for life and faith beyond adolescence.  This necessitates that the rule of life is a part of years of conversations with youth.  Only with longevity in mind from the start will you be able to see how a personal rule of life and assist them in spiritual growth.
  3. Rewrites are important – If honesty and longevity are embraced then rewrites are important.  You will need to revisit a personal rule of life with youth at least once a year prompting them to make revisions.  This allows them to reflect on how God is change not only their beliefs but also the specific practices and hopefully they will see how they are becoming more like Christ.
  4. Personal evaluations for personal transformation – Beyond that revisiting for a rewrite their needs to regular times for youth to do personal evaluations or examens in the context of the youth group.  These times of soul searching will give teens the opportunity to confess how they are not living up to their beliefs or to celebrate how they are embrace who God has created them to be.  Either way, confession or celebration, the goal of personal transformation will be close because they rule of life will be seen a true guide for their life.
  5. No Christianesse, phraseology, generalizing or vagueness allowed. – When crafting and rewriting the rule of life don’t allow teens to use evasive language.  Insist that the rule of life be written in their own words, describe their view of God, life and the future, and detail specific practices.  For example, if they write “God loves me” push back with “Ok.  So why is that meaningful to you?”  An example of answering that question might be, “God loves me, so I will learn to love myself by, praying with God everyone morning, not making fun of myself with friends, and begin exercising two times a week.”

Do you use a personal rule of life with youth?  What rules would you add to the list?

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Paul Sheneman
Paul Sheneman is an author, speaker and youth pastor. He serves with the Macedonia Methodist Church in Ohio. He drinks way too much coffee for his own good. His main interest is exploring Christian formation. You can follow most of his ramblings on his blog at www.discipleshipremix.com or on Twitter @PaulSheneman.