What's in the course?
There are 13 main sessions plus an optional launch evening. In addition, the third part of the course includes The Steps To Freedom In Christ which are designed to be run on an Away Day or Weekend.
If you ran the whole course including the Launch Session on consecutive weeks, you would need 14 weeks plus the Away Day/Weekend but there are other options, the shortest of which is seven weeks (details in the Leader's Guide).
0. Launch (optional)
The Launch Session is a largely social event and we recommend you make every effort to make it as special as possible. The guide contains some suggestions as to how to do this. It includes teaching material on why we rely on the authority of the Bible. Amongst an increasingly Biblically illiterate culture, it is necessary to explain why it is reasonable to believe that God’s Word is truth and is the authority on who God is, who we are and how to live life.
Part A – Key Truths
Jesus said you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. The truth about who we are now we are Christians is amazing. This first section of the course contains three sessions. They focus not so much about how to act as a follower of Jesus but on who we are.
1. Who was I?
When Adam and Eve were created, they had life in all its fullness. God met all their needs. They were perfectly accepted, secure and significant and this is a picture of how our relationship with God is meant to be. When they disobeyed God and turned their back on him, they lost their relationship with God. The result for us is that we were born physically alive but spiritually dead and with a huge need for acceptance, security and significance. Jesus came to restore to us the very same life, acceptance, security and significance that Adam and Eve had originally.
2. Who am I now?
The Bible is clear that when we become Christians, who we are and the way God sees us totally changes. This session explains that we should no longer regard ourselves as sinners but as new creations, children of God, saints! Furthermore, the way we see ourselves really matters. It is important to know that we can approach God with confidence, knowing we are not guilty in his eyes.
3. Where do I put my faith?
We all have faith in something. It is where we put that faith that decides whether or not it will be effective. If we want our Christian life to be fruitful and effective, we need to put our faith totally in God and the truth of the Bible. Our faith grows by putting it into practice.
Part B – What are we up against?
Having considered the basic truths, the second part of the course (four sessions) looks at the things that try to deflect us from that truth, our enemies. Knowing what we are up against and how to fight against it can help us immensely to stand firm and not be held back in our relationship with God.
We live in a world full of choices and ‘mix and match’ spirituality. The way that we see reality - our worldview - can vary massively based on where and when we were brought up. The world also tells us that there is no absolute unchangeable truth. When we become Christians we need to learn that, if we want to see reality as it is, we need to adopt the Biblical worldview.
5. Big choices
This session introduces something that the Bible calls ‘the flesh’, the unhelpful ways of thinking and coping that we developed as we grew up. These ways can still really affect us and hold us back, but we don’t need to give in. We can choose every day and moment to live either according to our selfish ‘flesh’ or according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The environment we grew up in, traumatic experiences and giving into temptation may have led to the development of what the Bible calls ‘strongholds’. These are deeply-ingrained lies that we believe that affect the way we live. When we become a Christian, these lies were not deleted and we have to ‘renew our minds’ with the truth in the Bible.
7. Spiritual reality
It is important to realise that we are in a spiritual battle and the devil does exist and that he tells lies to us to affect what we believe and therefore how we live. Every day this battle between truth and lies takes place in our minds. This session looks at how the devil works and how to win the battle.
Part C – Freedom from the past
Many young people have been hurt or affected by people or events that really affect their relationships with each other and with God. This third part of the course consists of two sessions plus the Steps To Freedom Away Day/Weekend. It is about resolving the negative effects of the past and dumping harmful spiritual ‘baggage’ that can hold us back.
8. Handling our emotions
Our emotions tell us if something is wrong and needs to be dealt with. Choosing to believe the truth about who we are and who God is makes sure that our feelings reflect reality. The best way to handle our emotions is to be totally honest with God.
Nothing holds young people back more than an unwillingness to forgive. Forgiveness is not about setting the person who has hurt you free but about you being set free. Learning to forgive from the heart sets us free from the past and opens the door for God to heal our emotional pain.
The Steps to Freedom in Christ Away Day/Weekend
The Steps to Freedom in Christ is a key part of the course. It is a gentle repentance process, where young people look at seven different areas of their life, ask the Holy Spirit to bring to their mind stuff they need to deal with and then say sorry and turn their back on it. It is about reconnecting with God’s love and getting back on track in our relationship with him.
Part D – Growing as Christians
Having taken hold of our freedom In Christ, we need to keep learning, following and growing as a Christian. This final part of the Course looks at how to stand firm, relate to others and aim to become more like Jesus. It contains four sessions; Session 10 contains crucial teaching on how to renew our minds and should not be separated from the previous nine sessions. However, sessions 11 to 13 can stand on their own as a follow-up for those who do not want to run the whole Course in one go.
10. Truth = freedom
If we dealt honestly with everything the Holy Spirit showed us in the Steps to Freedom, we have taken hold of the freedom Jesus won for us. The key to growth now is staying free. This session looks at how we make truth part of our lives every day and regularly resist the devil and renew our mind.
11. Loving others
Jesus said that the most important command was to love God with all that we have and love our neighbour as ourselves. This session looks at the fact that relationships go wrong because people focus on their rights in a relationship rather than on their responsibilities. If we focus on how we are to treat others rather than what we feel we deserve our friendships will be stronger, more fruitful and reflect God more.
12. Where are you going?
It is important that we understand God’s goal for our lives and bring our own goals into line with it. God’s goal for us is that we become more like Jesus. We have all kinds of desires that other people or events can get in the way of but no one can stop us becoming more like Jesus.
13. Keeping going
The world tells us that we will only have real satisfaction, fulfilment and success if we achieve certain things and look the right way. This session looks at a number of aspects of our lives and how faith works in each of these areas as we aim to become more like Jesus.