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Teach Students the Heart of the Christian Life Using this Resource

Categories Ministry New Testament

David Olshine has designed his new teaching resource James, 1-2 Peter, & 1-3 John for the busy youth worker who lacks either the time or the information to lead a quality Bible study.

Of James’ important lesson, Olshine says, “We don’t do good deeds to become more Christ-like; we do good deeds because we are Christ-like.” (9) He explains that Peter wrote his letters “to empower and encourage the people of God to keep growing in their faith no matter how tough the times they were living in.” (63) Finally, John and his letters: “John was writing to Jesus people everywhere to understand the simple truth of Christian faith: love God and people.” (117)

To show how much this resources will benefit your youth workers—and students—I’ve selected one example lesson from James, 1-2 Peter, and 1-3 John. Each study engages different aspects of the heart of the Christian life: faith and works; suffering and persecution; salvation and security.

Olshine believes the new Studies on the Go series has "all of the best ingredients for helping students and adults connect with God and each other as they encounter Scripture.” (7)

This post will show how James, 1-2 Peter, & 1-3 John will help your team teach the heart of the Christian life so they can encounter the heart of God.

James: Faith & Works

One of the more well-known passages in James that gets at the heart of the Christian life is that on the dynamics of faith and works. In explaining James 2:14-24, Olshine applies it directly to the teaching task of youth workers:

It’s all well and good that teens state they believe in Christ, but until one moves into a place of action, faith is not truly complete. As James says, it’s dead. We need to challenge teens to move past a shallow faith to a place of action. (26)

Olshine asks specific questions using the active verbs that uniquely mark the Studies on the Go series:

In Share, he relates the main message to students with the question, “What do you think of people who say one thing and do another?” (27)

The Observe question draws students' attention to James’s example of faith: “Verses 20-22 give us the Old Testament example of Abraham. How does this text explain the relationship of good deeds and faith?” (27)

He encourages students to Think by asking, “Based on 18-19, why are our actions the evidence of what we believe?” (27)

Finally, Apply: “Judging by your actions, would your faith be considered alive or dead? What is one step you could take to make your faith more alive?” (38)

1-2 Peter: Good Suffering

“No one looks forward to suffering,” Olshine acknowledges. Humorously he goes on to say, “You might say that suffering is the broccoli of faith: You don’t want it, but you’re getting it anyway because it’s healthy.” (80)

One aspect of the heart of the Christian life is suffering and persecution. And through the series questions, Olshine draws students into seeing how the problem with suffering and persecution isn’t with God; it’s with our expectations.

To begin, he invites students to share, “Was there ever a time when you suffered for doing the right thing?” (81)

Then he has students observe 1 Peter 3:13-17 and 18, and asks, “What do we learn about suffering? What does the suffering of Christ produce?” (81)

To help students think about these verses he asks, “Why might suffering be good for us? Why do you think Peter draws our attention to the suffering of Christ?” (82)

Olshine has designed an optional activity to help students prepare for suffering for they faith:

As a group, discuss ways you can prepare to defend your faith. Vote on your group’s top three ideas. Choose one you’ll apply this week…As a group pray for preparation, gentleness, and respect in declaring your faith to others. (82)

1-3 John: What is Faith?

Finally, Olshine helps youth workers engage an important question that sits at the heart of the Christian life: “What is faith?”

This is a question John himself engages, though from a little different angle:

John in his first epistle is asking the question, “How do we know that we have eternal life?” It’s a question we have to ask ourselves, as well as others. Many people, including youth, struggle with the realization of their salvation. “Am I really saved? How do I know?” some might ask. (151)

To help students navigate these questions, Olshine encourages students to “share an experience about when you really sensed God’s presence.” (152)

Next, he draws students attention to 1 Jn 5:1-12. In one observe question he says, “Read verses 1-3. What does John say about loving God and keeping his commandments? Why are those important?” (152) Then to get them thinking about the passage, he asks, “why do we have to love God and obey him? Is our salvation based on works or not? What does Scripture say?”

Finally, an application question: “How can we practically love God more? How do we get closer to him? How do we learn to obey him? How does his grace play into this?”

In the closing Do section, Olshine encourages students to write their testimonies, share them with the group, go home and share them with their family, and then come back to report how that sharing time went—all to encourage students in the way John is encouraging his readers: “to grow their faith toward being fully devoted and obedient disciples.” (151)


If you lead student leaders, this book and series is the perfect resource for your busy volunteers. Add this to your youth worker toolkit and pass them along to your leaders to help them help students think deeply, talk openly, and apply what they are learning to their lives.

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