Monday, October 5, 2015

Working with Students "Second Experience"

Several years ago I served on a committee to pick students for summer ministry assignments. I read about 100 students' spiritual story or testimony. At least 80% of them said something like, "I became a Christian or joined the church or went forward, or prayed a prayer when I was 8, 9, or 10.....but then when I was 18, 19, or 20.."

They would go on to describe a second experience. Some would say, "I re-dedicated my life." Others would say, "I really became a Christian.".

Through the years I have had this conversation with an untold number of students. How do you handle it? How do you treat it? First of all, I think it is important and we should never take it lightly. I have sometimes called this decision the "Discipleship Decision". It was when a child's faith became an adult's faith. Obviously, there are those who went forward in a church service just because everyone else in their group was and made no spiritual decision. But, that is not true of all of them.

I believe you celebrate this decision with them and in the end you must label it whatever they label or a salvation experience. But, I think it is important to say, ok; now where do you go from here? What does this mean for you?

I am aware of some College Ministries who when a student comes to them wrestling with such an issue that they simply say the student should pray the prayer of salvation to be sure. And, they count them as a salvation. I think that is dishonest and unfair to the student in working through their experience. For many I have worked with, they had genuinely come to know the Lord very young and were now understanding and wanting to accept the fuller implications of that decision. That needs to be affirmed and helped.

I like the passage at the end of the "Woman at the Well Story". "We no longer believe just because of what you said, now we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.". John 4:42
I think this describes many students who believed because godly parents or Youth leaders told them, but now they have owned it as an adult. Yet, there are those who just held up their hand or signed a card. We must help all of them work out their salvation "with fear and trembling".

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