Tim Keller’s Advice For Helping Teenagers Grow In Their Faith

Drew Hill July 6, 2018

When Tim Keller was asked his best advice for helping teenagers grow in their faith, this was his answer:

Teenagers have more information about God than they have experience of him. Get them in places where they have to rely on God.”

It got me thinking. Where are the places where my high school friends have to rely on God? How do we as Young Life leaders help get them there?

4 Ways We Invite Our Teenage Friends To Rely On God

Invite Them Into Adventure

We strategically fill our camps with high-adventure activities for this very reason.

The high ropes course.

The Quantum Leap pole.

Riding a 1000 pound horse.



Fill in the _______.

Risk requires faith.

What adventure will you lead your friends into this year?

Will you start a clothing line to feed the poor?

Will you work together to end slavery?

Will your Campaigners group give up soda for a year to bring clean water to a village?

Will you go overseas with YL Expeditions?

Invite Them Into Silence

In a world where we’re more socially ‘connected’ than ever before, it’s easy to never be ‘alone.’ To never experience ‘silence.’ We can always have someone to talk to, even if its an X-box Live opponent we’ve never met. Our loneliness is masked by relationships as shallow as our iPhone screens. Our mood is dependent upon our online approval rating. Let’s invite our middle and high school friends into intentional times of silence and solitude, turning off our phones, but not just for a week at camp.

What if your Campaigners group this semester started with phones turned off and in a basket. What if it ended with 20 minutes of silence? Torture? A declining Campaigners attendance? Maybe. But it’s always a highlight at camp. Could it happen on a weekly basis?

Could turning off our dependence on the world’s approval give us enough silence to hear what our Heavenly Father thinks of us?

Invite Them Out Of Comfort

Fifteen years ago we spent our college spring break working at Pico Escondido YL camp in the Dominican Republic. I stayed with a family in a shanty that would be deemed unfit for habitation in America. They had one bed and insisted I sleep there while they made pallets on the floor. I still remember the light in their eyes.

They did not depend upon earthly possessions.

They did not depend upon their health.

They found joy in relying upon Christ alone.

There are people in our city who have no homes.

There are refugee families who have no friends.

There are elderly men and women who never have visitors.

There are sick people who have no hope of a cure.

Religion that is pure and genuine in the sight of God the Father will show itself by such things as visiting orphans and widows in their distress.” James 1:27 (Phillips)

Let’s invite our friends out of their comfort zones…

and into relationships with people who have nothing else to depend upon.

Invite Them Into Prayer

Prayer is the ultimate act of reliance upon God. It’s admitting weakness. It’s saying, “God, I can’t, but you can.”

What would happen if you gathered a few of your high school friends next week just to pray? What if you met at the school with no other agenda than to pray for God to move? What if it became a weekly sacrifice, to get up early on Fridays, just to pray? I can’t think of a more intentional way to invite them to ‘rely on God.’

What God’s Word Says About Relying On Him

John 6:63

1 Peter 5:7

Jeremiah 17:5-9

Proverbs 3:5-6

Philippians 4:19

Jeremiah 33:3

What would you add? How else can we invite our teenage friends into places that force them to rely on God?

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