Monday, January 18, 2016

Junior High Junction: Spiritual Growth for Middle Schoolers

Hi, and welcome back to the Junior High Junction! If you linked up last week, thank you! I enjoyed reading through all of the posts geared toward our junior highers!

This week, I'm going to share a little bit about spiritual growth. Spiritual growth is very important for everyone, but this age group - our preteens and early teens - it is vital. This is the age your child will start asking questions, dealing with doubts and unbelief, and working out their salvation. It is so important that your children have a firm foundation that they can stand on, something they can cling to during these tumultuous years - and especially as they turn into young adults. Spiritual growth is just as important to a Christian as physical growth is to a child.

There are {I believe} 3 major keys to spiritual growth:

Bible study is one of the most important parts of spiritual growth in any believer's life, but especially for our preteens and teens. The only way to understand the scriptures, to know what God commands us to do {and not to do}, and to appreciate the redemptive story is to study the Bible. Reading it is one thing; studying it is quite another. The difference should be explained to your child, and then we should show our children the difference. Here are some ideas to put this into practice:
  • Take a few days to study the Bible with  your child and introduce them to some good study habits.
  • Buy them a brand new notebook or journal and a highlighter to use for their Bible study.
  • Show them where your Bible commentaries, concordances, and dictionaries are in your home. If you don't have any, please invest in some. They will be worthwhile for you and your family.
  • Let them peek into your Bible journal or study notebook.
  • Make or print out a Bible reading plan for them {here is the one Mikaela will be using}.
  • Teach them the HEAR method of Bible study - HIGHLIGHT, EXPLAIN, APPLY, and RESPOND.
  • Help them to set a specific time for Bible reading and study, with a beginning and ending time. This will help them not to rush through it or spend too little time in the Word. A good time would be 20-30 minutes a day of study.
  • Have them make a goal of scripture memory - one new verse a week, five a month, or fifty for the year. Have them keep index cards and a chart so they can see their progress and keep practicing.
  • Make sure they have time during the day just to read the Word - no studying necessary, just time to enjoy the beauty of the scriptures.

Prayer is essential in the life of a believer. Prayer also seems to be a difficult thing for pre-teens and teens. In my family, we pray aloud together almost daily. We just started doing this about a year ago, and the difference is remarkable. I pray first, and then we take turns oldest to youngest. It gives the younger ones a chance to hear how to pray. At first, they repeated a lot of the same phrases I did, but now they don't! They seem to understand what to pray for and how to ask God for things. I also encourage my kids to pray often throughout the day. Having your child set a specific time for prayer would be helpful, especially because kids get busy and forget! Say, 15 minutes when they wake up in the morning and 15 minutes before bed, your child can turn off all electronics and put away all distractions, shut their door, and pray. Fifteen minutes may seem like a long time, but once you start praying, it literally flies by!

Teach your child how to pray. Jesus gave us a perfect example in Matthew 6:5-15. First, He tells us what not to do when we pray, and then He not only tells us what to do, but gives us a sample! Have your child write this out or type it and print it out and hang it in their room or glue it into their Bible journal.

Give your child a small notebook, or have them use the last ten or so pages in their Bible notebook, to use as a prayer log. They can write the name of the person or thing they are praying for, the date they start, and any answers they see God give them. They can even use this when they pray, as a guide. {Intercessory prayer is powerful!}

Prayer may be awkward for them at first,  but they will learn to pray and listen for God's voice. Have them take 5 minutes a day to clear their minds and invite God to speak to them.

Obedience is our response to God to His gift of salvation. We need to teach our kids how important obedience is to our spiritual growth. This is not just obeying the 10 commandments; this is learning to become sensitive to the Holy Spirit's promptings and warnings.

Our children need to understand the Holy Spirit's role in our lives. They need to know that being obedient to God is a lifestyle. When we walk in the Spirit, we please God. When we yield to our flesh, we sin and bring destruction upon ourselves.

We need to teach our kids how to have an obedient attitude - when they complete their chores, when their little siblings ask to play a game, when they feel God prompting them to talk to the kid sitting all alone at youth group, when they see an elderly person that could use a strong arm to guide them, when their friends are talking about going to see the new movie that they know doesn't glorify get the idea.

Being obedient brings glory to God. Our children should strive to bring honor and glory to God in everything they watch, listen to, read, and speak. If our children learn now to listen to and obey the Holy Spirit, it will be a lifelong habit that will yield much spiritual fruit.

I know there are many, many more things that will bring spiritual growth, but I also want you to make sure your child knows that doing things will not get them to heaven - only a relationship with Jesus will.

Now for the Link-Up! {And congratulations to Lori Hooten, who won the giveaway last week!}


  1. Replies
    1. I am enjoying it so much! Thanks for linking up!

  2. Great tips for spiritual growth. I think you touched on this but I would add: model it. If you aren't studying daily faithfully, your children won't believe that you think it is important. I enjoyed this. Thanks for hosting.

    1. Yes, definitely! I make sure my kids see me studying DAILY and respect the private time I desire. I also let them freely look in my Bible journals and notebooks anytime they want. Thanks for linking up!