In the Arena: Don’t just go through it; grow through it.
Key Verse: James 1:2-5 NIV
YouVersion Bible Plan: Don’t Be Different Alone
What’s a guarantee in this life? We will all face troubles. It sounds depressing, but what if facing trials is more empowering than we think?
This week, we’re meeting students where they are by answering common questions about pain and challenging them to change the way they think about it through the words in James 1:2-5. What if pain has purpose? What if pain is a part of the process? What if pain paves the way for perseverance?
So, our core truth this week is that we won’t just go through trials. We’ll grow through them. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control our response. So, what can the words of James—the half-brother of Jesus by the way—offer to us today? A lot, actually. Here are three truths from James 1:2-5 that we can cling to in the middle of trials.
- You will face trials. If you’re alive, you’ll face troubles. But you won’t have to face them alone. God is the Creator; we are the creation. He longs to lead us through trials, and like any loving Father, He’s waiting to guide us and help us if we’ll allow Him to.
- You have the chance to grow. Going through trials isn’t optional. Growing through them is. What attitude will you have as you endure? Our prayer for our students is that they will choose to take to heart James’ advice and consider it pure joy when we face trials because they can and will give us opportunities to rely on God, to build a stronger faith, and to have a story worth sharing later.
- You can ask God for help. Many times, students feel like God doesn’t care about their issues or that their problems are too small for God. That’s not true. God loves to hear us and help us. He’s waiting for us to bring our problems to Him because we were never designed to handle our problems on our own. Encourage your students that they don’t have to get it together to go to God. God is who gets it together for us.
So, the hard truth is that trials will happen. The hope is that through them, we come out stronger. So, as a Switch group, you’ll spend some time setting SMART goals together. In your students’ packets, they’ll have space to think about ways they can grow this year, and they’ll get the opportunity to make two goals for themselves—one spiritual and one personal.
Leader Challenge: This week can be a heavy topic to talk about. Make sure you balance grace and truth. We don’t want students to feel like they have to hide their feelings or suck it up when they’re going through something hard. The hope is that students know they don’t need to go through hard things alone. They have you, their Switch group, and most importantly, they have a God who loves them and cares for them. So, how can you help them apply this message to their life?
- Hold your students accountable to their goals. Text them throughout the week and ask how their goals are going. Encourage them to stick it out, even when it gets hard. It’s not a goal if it’s not hard, so challenge them to fight through the discomfort and remember their “why” behind the goals.
- Challenge them to memorize James 1:2-5. The Word of God is living and active, and we want our students to hide God’s Word in their hearts so that they have an anchor to cling to in the middle of the uncertainty of life. As a Switch group, commit to memorizing James 1:2-5 throughout the month of January. It’s our major verse for this month, and it’s a great one to lean on in times of trouble.
You’re doing an amazing job, and students will have a lasting faith foundation because of your investment in their life!
Tested: Take the test.
Key Verses: James 1:2-5 NIV, Acts 4:1-13 NIV
YouVersion Bible Plan: Switch On
The average student in America takes 112 standardized tests from kindergarten through senior year. And that’s not counting all the random pop quizzes and chapter tests that pop up weekly in schools. But tests are not limited to the classroom. In fact, our biggest tests rarely involve our grades but often involve tough situations life throws at us. Are our students ready to withstand the bigger tests in life?
This week, we’re challenging students to take the tests life throws at them because it’s in those tests that we can become stronger. When our faith is tested, we can either find ourselves drifting from God or drawing nearer to Him. We’re leading students toward the latter. Let’s embrace the words of James and consider it pure joy when we experience trials and tests of many kinds because we know they will develop perseverance and maturity in us.
We’re doing a special SwitchUp message, so you’ll get to sit with your Switch group the whole time as we process what it looks like to go through tests of our faith. Looking at Peter’s life, we’ll observe times he took tests—sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing. During the message, the speaker will throw to three discussion questions that you’ll spend time talking over with your group.
After the message, your Student Guides are back, and you’ll pass them out to your students so they can take a personality test. Give your students time to take the test and process their results, and talk about them as a group. The goal is that we learn how students are naturally wired to respond to tests because self-awareness is the first step of growth. Our personalities give us a glimpse of how we’re naturally inclined to respond to tests, but they shouldn’t limit us from growing. In fact, we should use our personality results as a launching point to discover how we can grow and develop—particularly in the way we respond to tests.
- Build community with your group by creating safe spaces for your students to process their personality results. Don’t force anyone to share, but make sure you give every student an opportunity to share their thoughts on both the questions and on the personality debrief. Don’t allow a few students to dominate the conversation. Instead, make every student feel heard and seen.
- Give space for students to answer the questions during the video. Ten minutes can seem like a long time, but don’t fill in the silence immediately. Let students have a minute to collect their thoughts before answering. Try rephrasing the questions if they can’t think of anything to say. After someone shares, affirm them for responding and see if anyone else has a similar experience. Make sure you’re listening more than you’re talking.
- Challenge students to take a next step this week. Some great examples could be: memorize James 1:2-5, do the Bible Plan together, find one way to develop your personality this week, figure out a better way to respond to tests, etc.
Your Toughest Year Yet: You will need your Tribe.
Key Verse: James 1:2-5 NIV
YouVersion Bible Plan: James
Welcome back to another semester of Switch! It’s the first night back, and we’re diving right in with a powerful message from your Youth Pastor. Around this time of year, we’ve all got #goals. But usually, they never last. Instead of focusing on achieving resolutions, we’re pressing into the idea of developing perseverance. It’s one thing to set some goals, but how will you see them through and respond when you’re tested this year?
We’re challenging students to make James 1:2-5 their anthem for this year. What would it look like for us to emerge from trials stronger than before? What if our students defied the stereotypes of their generation and became known for revolutionary faith and courage?
This year, let’s allow our students to rise to the challenge and develop habits today that will build them—and their faith—to last later. We won’t just passively endure trials in our lives. We’ll embrace them—even with joy because adversity will make us stronger and will help us develop the maturity we need.
Heads Up! Because we really want students to embrace the idea of fighting their weakness and taking the tests life throws at them, we’re incorporating some interactive elements into your Switch groups. For the whole month of January, we’ll provide Student Guides for students to work on during group time. You will take these up at the end of the night and store them according to your campus’ instructions.
During week one, students will be tasked with writing a letter to their weakness. You’ll help guide them through the process, and it may take your whole small group time to do this. Ask students some of the questions on the first page on their guide. Help them fill out their letters. Talk about them, asking students if anyone wants to share their letters with the group.
We’ll also encourage them to memorize James 1:2-5 this month, so you can spend time working on that together as well.
- Help your students fill out their letter to their weakness during your Switch groups this week.
- Challenge them to memorize James 1:2-5, and consider offering a treat or prize to any students who can say it the following week or by the end of the month.
- Make your group a place for students to belong tonight by using their names often, catching up with them about how their breaks were, and giving space for everyone in your group to share their letters or talk through their weaknesses.