A group of teenagers walking

3 Things I’m Learning from Journeying with Younger Christians

Written by Yap Jie Ying, Singapore


I heard them as soon as the lift doors opened. The raucous chatter of teenage girls, occasionally punctuated by the tone-deaf squeals of a rubber chicken toy they had stumbled on in the church’s kindergarten and now took delight in playing with.

I winced at the piercing noise. Seeing my reaction, they gleefully squeezed it a few more times. Then we all trooped into our usual classroom to start our Bible study session for the day. 

For years, I dipped in and out of different ministries, unable to find one that I was really interested in. After a particularly disappointing episode in church, I was moved to try again in the hopes of gaining a better perspective on serving, and to slowly regain a sense of familiarity and comfort being around God’s people. 

As I was mulling over which ministry to be a part of, God promptly opened a door by sending one of the church coordinators to ask if I was willing to serve as a youth discipleship leader in the new year.

At first, I was doubtful as I felt out of touch with the younger generation. The way they expressed themselves, their quirks and humour, and their “foreign” lingo, all highlighted the generation gap between us. 

I was also filled with trepidation because I had always been the one being discipled and taught. How could I inspire younger believers in their Christian faith when I had no experience in teaching or leading a Bible study? 

There were many times I felt like backing out. However, I was reminded that there is no absolute “right” or “wrong” answer about serving in this ministry. I just had to start somewhere and participate in full faith, knowing God will in time reveal to me certain truths and new perspectives from this experience. 

It’s been well over a year since I started serving and loving this group of young ladies who have brought a newfound perspective and joy to my otherwise routine Sundays and life. Here are some reflections I have gathered over this period:


1. Our own spiritual health matters 

At our last youth discipleship leaders’ gathering, our pastor cautioned us about the onset of spiritual stagnation. Between our daily responsibilities and needing rest, our quiet time with God and spiritual growth can be overlooked. Thus, we’re reminded to “pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1).

As leaders teaching God’s Word, we constantly grapple with the challenge of helping these youths find the relevance of Bible teachings in their everyday lives. 

Confronting their questions about God has compelled me to dig deep into my own relationship with God, wrestle with the hard questions, and consider why I’m still a Christian after all these years. This has led me to read more and learn the answers to the tough questions, which has been enlightening for me.

Another thing I’ve learned is to discern when my spiritual tank is low. 

Preparing Bible studies, thinking of creative ways to capture the youths’ attention, and the unspoken pressure of ensuring they show up weekly all add up to a long list of tasks we need to “achieve”. These efforts, though good and important, can take a toll on us and result in our spiritual walk and growth becoming lukewarm.

As much as God rejoices in our efforts to serve Him, He also values our relationship with Him. We need to learn to recognise signs of spiritual dryness, whether it’s constantly feeling weary from the Bible teachings or no longer feeling joy when talking about Christ.

As leaders, we’ve been assured it is perfectly alright to step away from serving whenever we feel depleted, so we can focus on our own spiritual growth and come back when we feel rested, because we cannot pour out from an empty cup.


2. Raising God-loving youths takes a village

Since joining this ministry, I have been blessed to know many new people, leaders who lead youths of different age groups and genders. Despite the differences of our groups, our struggles are similar in nature, ranging from low engagement to our inability and helplessness in answering difficult theological questions. 

Whenever I receive difficult questions, it can feel as though I am walking on a tightrope; as if one wrong move on my part might cause these youths to fall into doubt completely. But to do what I can to prepare, I’ve been reading books that help explain Christianity to those who have doubts about the faith. 

Together with my co-leader, I am contemplating setting aside time to address the commonly asked tough questions, in the hopes that it will help these young ladies realise that it is worth thinking seriously about their faith and continuing in this journey as a Christian.

The leaders’ shared experiences have helped form a community, which encourages and reminds us that we all have a part to play in helping each other and our youths mature in Christ. Whenever we used to gather for lunch, some leaders would take the opportunity to share in-class anecdotes to provide some insight into what the youths are thinking about, and what’s on their hearts. 

These impromptu sharing sessions remind us of our singular purpose of sowing into these young lives, and of the inherent holiness in what we do to help build God’s church.   

We believe a whole-of-church approach is required where, “each part is working properly, making the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:16), for the impact God’s love to be apparent in all our lives. 


3. Only God can soften hardened hearts

Living in a result-oriented society, we expect returns relative to the efforts we put in. This is why I feel discouraged whenever my heartfelt words and carefully prepared lessons seem to be falling on deaf ears—like seeing how a topic that’s been revisited week after week ends up forgotten. 

Yet, amid my doubts, I am always reminded that “only God has the power to change the heart of men” (Proverbs 21:1). To those who believe in Him, He has promised to give “a new heart, and a new spirit. . . [and to] remove the heart of stone from [our] flesh and give [us] a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). 

Even as someone who’s been in church for many years, I see how I am not immune either to the hardening of my heart. When I struggled to explain sin and why it is severe enough to cause eternal separation between God and man, it made me realise how painfully shallow my Bible knowledge was. This opened my eyes to the possibility that I too have forgotten the magnitude of these simple biblical truths. 

Recognising my own struggle has humbled me and reminded me that all understanding is really God’s grace. And so, whenever I feel discouraged, I would remind myself that every week these youths choose to show up to class is yet another chance to hear God speak to all of us, as well as a chance for me to demonstrate the love of Christ, to keep trying to reach out and journey with them.

Many times, I’ve had to stop myself from imposing my views based on my experiences, and to instead practise active listening whenever they need to air their frustrations, as well as seize opportunities to have fun with them during lessons. 

I have also assured them that they need not be afraid of asking difficult questions or sharing any doubts they may have about God and Christianity. Even though we as leaders do not have all the answers, their weekly presence means they are giving themselves and each other a chance to deepen their faith, which is ultimately God’s work. 


Journeying with someone in the faith, whether young or old, requires patience and endurance. Sometimes, the results may not always be what we expect, but we’ll also come to realise that we’re the ones who’ll benefit the most from it. 

Ultimately, we can find comfort in knowing God sees our faithfulness, and everything will be made right in His time.

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