“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” Genesis 1:26
At BSSM, we often say our first year focuses on building identity. In fact, a verse students hear over and over in first year is 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” This verse sums up the basics of your identity in Christ. You have been chosen by God. You are royal. You are a priest unto the Lord. You are holy. You are God’s special possession. You are meant to declare His praises. You live in light and are a light to the world.
When BSSM first started, a vast majority of our students came from our home church here in Redding, Bethel. Since most of the students went to Bethel, they had already heard several teachings about their identity, and so it wasn’t necessary to spend time in school teaching on identity. However, around the fourth year of BSSM, our staff soon realized that, as we started attracting more and more students that did not claim Bethel as their home church, we needed to start teaching students their identity in Christ.
While most of First Year focuses on identity, students never grow out of the learning phase of who God has called them to be. Even as staff we are constantly learning new aspects of our Father and who we are as His children. There is never a graduation from being a son or daughter!
How to Teach Identity
We spend the first half of the year focusing on teaching our students’ identity, but, in order to be able to speak into our students’ lives as leaders, we first have to address any leadership wounds our students may have. This is typically done with the entire class and is taught by our First Year Overseer. We also constantly lead our students through Father encounters. Below are some tools we use to strengthen our students’ identity in Christ.
Experiencing the Father’s Embrace by Jack Frost
We have our students read this book before moving on to identity. Experiencing Father’s Embrace shows you how you can personally feel your Father’s loving and comforting embrace, and points out areas that may be hindering you from experiencing a more intimate relationship with your Creator.
The Supernatural Ways of Royalty by Kris Vallotton
Supernatural Ways of Royalty reveals your true identity as a child of the King of Kings and royal heir to the eternal Kingdom of God. Kris Vallotton and Bill Johnson denounce the pauper mentality many Christians have and present your royal inheritance through Christ’s ultimate act of redemption. As a member of God’s royal family, you can share the King’s power of grace and mercy; think and act with His authority; reveal royal qualities for future generations; promote honor and humility with confidence; cultivate His love for one another. God is building His people into His likeness through the fires of revival.
BSSM students both read the book and go through the workbook. The DVD series is available with a BSSM Equip subscription.
Below are some videos sessions from both our DVDs as well as on BSSM Equip that are great for strengthening student’s identity in the Lord:
- Encounter with Papa, Parts 1 & 2 by Mark Brookes
- Transformation through Process by Mark Brookes
- Living Under Fathers and Mothers by Gabe Valenzuela
- Applying the Cross Parts 1 & 2 by Mark Brookes
- Father’s Embrace by Danny Silk
- The Father Ladder by Danny Silk
- A Foundation of Love by Mark Brookes
- Identity: Who is Your Daddy? by Mark Brookes
- Experiencing God’s Love by Judy Franklin
- God is a Relationship by Rolland Baker
Mothers and Fathers
In First Year, you will find more of a mix of age groups than you will in Second Year. Students coming into First Year have more of a need for healthy mothers and fathers in their lives. Second Year students are more equipped to seek out and find mothers and fathers.
Having healthy mothers and fathers in your environment will help heal any wounds your students may have with fathers, mothers, and leaders.
You can tell a student they are loved unconditionally and are a part of a family, but unless they actually experience that, many will not believe it.
If your school doesn’t have more mature students, we suggest finding some trusted volunteers who will be a mother and father to your students. While it’s great that younger volunteers have a motherly or fatherly heart, we suggest actually finding students who are further along in life to love on your students. You will find an incredible change in your students as they are loved unconditionally by a mother figure and a father figure throughout the year.
It Starts with You
Identity starts with you. Recently, Bill said, “Punishment doesn’t have to do with the person who messed up, it has to do with the punisher.” He was speaking into the difference between disciplining and punishing your children, and this insight relates to you as a leader. Who you believe you are as a daughter or son of God will determine what your students get from your school. Take some time and answer the following questions:
- Who do you relate to the most in the Trinity? Jesus, God, or the Holy Spirit? Why?
- What kind of relationship do you have with God, the Father?
- What was your relationship with your father like? Are there any areas in your relationship with your father that you need to heal and forgive?
- What was your relationship with your mother like? Are there any areas in your relationship with your mother that you need to heal and forgive?
- Do you truly believe that God is a good Father? Are there any areas in your relationship with Father God that you need to heal and forgive?
If any of the answers from the questions above stir anything up, find a trusted mentor or counselor to connect with and walk through healing in those areas.
Identity is one of the most important areas you will teach your students. If your students have a broken identity, they will not be able to effectively change the world. As we mentioned in the beginning, you will never grow out of needing to refine your identity in Christ. There is always something new to enjoy in Christ!