All youth pastors and leaders should want the character of our students to change and reflect biblical values. However, we must be careful not to try to change the character of our students without changing their hearts. Ben Trueblood, director of student ministry for LifeWay Christian Resources, writes about this on page 68 of his book Student Ministry that Matters. He writes:
“Character transformation and theology are linked together because theology, when taught correctly, will help a person know God. As a student in your ministry begins to know God, the result will be a greater love for God. This greater love for God will result in a growing desire to obey God and live a life of dependence upon Him. At the end of this process is actual character transformation that lasts rather than a short-term adjustment to their behavior.”
We don’t want to create teen-aged Pharisees, but teen-aged followers of Jesus! May we remember to not try to force our students to change their character on their own, but instead lead them to Jesus. Our student ministries in our local churches is one place where this happens.