Real Change for Students: Becoming More Like Jesus in Everyday Life

Andrew Nicholls
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Every honest Christian knows the need for change. But how to get there? How do young adults move forward from struggles both big and small? And how does our faith in God affect our everyday thoughts, feelings, and actions?

In this six-session small group resource for students, participants have the opportunity to reflect on one particular area in their lives and then to learn more about how God changes us to become more like Jesus. All of us struggle to love God and those around us, but God has promised to keep working on us. And God always keeps his promises. The change his gospel produces will make your life and your relationships truly beautiful.

This self-contained resource with leader's notes will encourage small group participants to understand and apply a biblical view of change to their lives and relationships. Homework for each session is also available for download here should students wish to share it with the leader.

Real Change for Students is based on the CCEF model of change from David Powlison's course, Dynamics of Biblical Change. The easy-to-use six lesson format and included leader's guide encourages students toward an honest discussion of their own struggles while providing an understanding of how a relationship with Christ brings change.

Topics addressed include understanding how we typically respond to trouble and pressure; how the cross of Christ brings comfort, help, and change; and how we can grow to be like Christ in the hardest circumstances.

Within this small group resource are biblical insights, discussion questions, and a personal change project to help young adults seeking to change negative patterns and live by faith in all circumstances. While the study material is designed for young adults within small groups, it can also be used for one-to-one discipleship study.

Rooted in Scripture, Real Change for Students draws on the established CCEF "Three Threes" model of change in simplified form to help young adults better understand biblical change and grow to be more like Jesus in everyday life.


Andrew Nicholls, MA, MB, BChir, is a former doctor and pastor who is now Director of Pastoral Care at Oak Hill Theological College, London. He is married to Hilary and they have two children.

Helen Thorne, BSc(Hons), MA is the Director of Training and Mentoring at London City Mission. She is a trustee of Biblical Counselling UK and involved in pastoral care within her local church. She is an experienced speaker and author of Purity is Possible, 5 Things to Pray for your City and Walking with Domestic Abuse Sufferers.

David Powlison, MDiv, PhD, serves as CCEF's executive director, as a faculty member, and as senior editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling. David has been counseling for over thirty years and has written numerous articles on biblical counseling and on the relationship between faith and psychology. His books include Speaking Truth in Love; Seeing with New Eyes; Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare; The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context; Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining and Bitterness; Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken; and God's Grace in Your Suffering.

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"Having taken CCEF's Dynamics of Biblical Change course as a student and having it taught several times as a recitation instructor for CCEF and for our church, I've long known that the material is tremendously beneficial for helping people know the God of the Bible better and understand how biblical change works. However, answering the question, 'how do we get this information more widely disseminated among the people at our churchÑespecially through our small groups?' has been elusive to me. Real Change is just the resource I've been looking for! Andrew Nicholls and Helen Thorne have created an effective tool for introducing more people to the basics of how the process of being changed more and more into the image of Christ over time works in the life of a Christian. It's short in duration (six sessions), making it ideal for a Sunday school or small group curriculum. And yet it is faithful to communicate the essence of David Powlison's Dynamics course. I am eager to commend and utilize this new tool for creating more discipleship opportunities in our church."
Bryan Pickering, Pastor for Care & Counseling, Bethlehem Baptist Church Downtown Campus

"God intends every believer to grow into the likeness of ChristÑand because we all have such a long way to go it's never too soon to get going. This edition of Real Change is a resource specifically designed to help students apply the power of the gospel to the details of life. It is an engaging, manageable, and thoroughly biblical exploration of spiritual growth. Buy it and use it with your friends."
Steve Midgley, Executive Director, Biblical Counselling UK; senior minister, Christ Church, Cambridge

"Finally! This book is long overdue! Real Change gives light to unlit paths of guiding students to a lifestyle of cross-centered faith and repentance. As a student walks across the stage on graduation, you can be confident that no matter what trials or failures they encounter they'll know how to examine their own hearts and turn to Christ. I look forward to giving a copy to every one of our youth leaders!"
Pavel N. Bugriyev, Youth Pastor, Hilltown Baptist Church

"Let's be honest: We all battle with deep-set issues, stubborn sins that hinder us from following Jesus. Real Change gets right under the skin and chisels the heart. It's not going to be an easy ride. Be prepared to be challenged, transformed, and brought to your knees as you allow God's Spirit to make you more like Jesus. This is genuinely a book I can't wait to introduce our teenagers to."
Dave Cornes, Head of Youth Ministry, St. James Muswell Hill, UK

"This brilliantly practical course will help you work out your faith in a really tangible way. It calls us to think through real struggles in our Christian lives, gives us a helpful biblical framework to work them through, and reminds us at every stage to bring them before our loving Heavenly Father who cares for us. What a great resource for God's people!"
Olly Elliott, Associate Minister for Youth and Families, St. Peter's Harold Wood

"We all have things in our lives we would like to change. But often we don't know how, and can even find it hard to begin talking about it. This course helps do exactly that, helping young people to understand themselves better, talk honestly, and see the real change that is possible as God works in us. With clear biblical input and lots of time to discuss, it will be a very useful resource."
Sarah Bradley, Youth and Children's Minister, Holy Trinity Church, Manchester, UK

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2 Reviews

  • 5
    A study that works towards internal to external transformation

    Posted by Kris Bush on 01 08 2020

    Real change for students. I was expecting a bit more. However, I had to remember that this is a study meant for teens and young adults who seem to have a fairly short attention span, so they need to get the point across without taking up too much time or losing their attention. The book itself is less than 100 pages and and the study is less than half. It is very direct and to the point. Each week, has scripture, reflection sections and homework. Then the leader guide has pointers on how to conduct each week of the study and roughly how much time that is recommended to spend on each section each week. So half the book is the actual study and the other half is the leader guide. The point of the study is to do internal change, transformation that leads to external change. There are six sessions in the study, which could be done one per week. The first four sessions are mostly internal change and the last two sessions are where the internal work moves into external fruit that can be seen. And this is huge because Jesus said we will know them by their fruit and the fruit of our lives is what can actually be seen. So it doesn’t matter that Jesus knows my heart if the effects of knowing Jesus isn’t shown in my life. And THAT is the true purpose of this study to help the next generation produce fruit in keeping with being a follower of Christ. (FYI, I received this book from the publisher, New Growth Press, in exchange for my honest review.)

  • 4
    Lots of information for leaders

    Posted by Joan Nienhuis on 11 24 2019

    This is a short (6 week) study for anyone who wants to understand how God changes us. It is based on the “Three Trees” diagram developed for a CCEF course on spiritual change. It deals with how we respond to pressure and how we can position ourselves to see change. Each lesson has a combination of teaching, group discussion, discussion with a partner, and homework. Students are encouraged to journal their personal reflections on their lives and the changes they desire. The book itself is about half study guide with the rest being leader information. Leaders are given ideas how to plan for the entire study and for each meeting. Specific times are offered, giving suggested number of minutes for each aspect of the study. There are suggestions for questions to ask, Scripture to read, discussions to lead, and homework to assign. The detailed information for leaders makes it possible for people without much experience in leading a study to do it well. I appreciate the material covered in the study. It is a good introduction to spiritual change. It requires quite a bit of “homework” in the form of reflective journaling. It also requires establishing discussion partners with the two discussing personal struggles, praying for one another, etc. This might be difficult for some to do. It is suggested the leader assign the discussion partners so I am not sure there will be instant willingness to share. I think this might be a potential problem for a teen study. The strength of this study is the leader material. Half the book is help for leaders, making it a study for a novice leader. I see some potential issues with forming meaning discussion partners but other than that, a good 6 week study on spiritual change. I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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