Moses and the Exodus

Scripture: Exodus 1-12, specifically Exodus 2:1-10 and 7-12

Intro: As we continue on through this Bible exploration, we will explore Moses and be reminded of the story of his extraordinary life and how his experiences are meaningful even for us today.

Teaching Points

  • These chapters in Exodus very quickly transition from a scenario in which the tribes of Israel (all of Jacob’s progeny) are rich and powerful and possess huge territory and assets to a situation in which they are subjugated under the rules of Egypt and subjected to hard labor and slave-like conditions. Even so, we see that certain strengths are attributed to the Hebrew people: strength in childbirth, cleverness, and resourcefulness.
  • The exodus becomes one of the great liberation narratives of the Jewish tradition and remains powerful today. However, most scholars accept that it is not anchored in history, primarily because we have substantial historical records from Egypt at this time and there is no record that makes reference to these events or people. There is also a lack of archaeological evidence that such a huge group of people actually traveled this part of the world during this period. We might consider that the events of the exodus may have happened in some way but on a much smaller scale than is described.

Discussion Questions

  • Start the lesson time with this question: Have you ever been talked into something that at first you didn’t want to do, but in the end you were happy you were talked into it? (assuming it was a positive thing)
  • Before you begin to read the scripture, ask students what they remember about Moses’ life.
  • As a legendary story, what is cool (or beautiful) about the story of Moses’ birth and upbringing?
  • When the time comes for Moses to return to Egypt and free the people, it takes about three chapters (Exodus 4-6) for God to convince Moses that he possesses the gifts and speaking ability to be the agent of liberation. What might we make of the fact that Moses is an unwilling participant in the story?
  • Have you ever been hesitant to follow God’s call on your life? (This may simply be someone asking you to serve in some way.)
  • In what ways do we experience God’s “persistence
    in inviting us (repeatedly) to answer our call?
  • Exodus 7-12 is one of the great showdowns of the biblical narrative. What do you think about the repeated times that God “hardens Pharaoh’s heart”?
  • You may have learned about the 10 plagues as children. Is there anything that troubles you now about this story? If you had the opportunity to teach this story to children or new/non-believers, how would you do it?
  • There is enduring internationalist theology anchored in this story. Who needs liberating today? What does it (or would it) look like to be Moses in our own time? Who have been Moses figures in the liberation movements of our more recent history? How were their stories similar (or different) to this legendary story?

Building Relationships with College Students

This week we are talking about now that college students are home, what do we do with them? You might think that since they grew up in your church, they should be comfortable coming back in the summer. But you would be surprised. They have grown, and developed and may not feel like they will be accepted into our congregations again. Even as parents, our own young adults come home and may not think the same way as we do anymore. So, what now? This Podcast addresses these things. It is important for us to start treating young adults as ADULTS, and allow them some brave space to ask hard questions and challenge our way of thinking. Be sure you ask more questions than lecturing them. Share why you believe/feel the way you do rather than demanding them to think the same way. Take them out for coffee, to lunch or on a hike. Engage them in conversation and ask them what they have learned, what questions they have, their passions and what fears they may face. It’s really simple actually. What are you going to do to reach out to a college student this summer? Don’t ignore them!

Moving Forward

Those of us in the United Methodist church have had a hard couple of weeks. In the last week of February delegates traveled from all over the world to meet in St. Louis for a special session of General Conference to decide the church’s stance on LGBTQ+ ordination and marriage. If you have paid any attention to the news/social media, you know by now that the decision was made to adopt the Traditionalist Plan. While it still has to go to the Judicial Council for review, it has left our church numb, confused, and angry (just to name a few emotions). It does’t matter where you opinion is on this matter, things got ugly, people have been hurt. There are a lot of untruths being thrown around and assumptions being made. So, where does this leave us? It’s difficult being a youth leader in this mess. Some of our teens don’t care and haven’t paid any attention, some of our teens are thinking, “You’re arguing about what?” and some of our teens are so overwhelmed with their own lives that even trying to breech this with them would put them over the edge. And then there are the LGBTQ+ teens that we are trying to reach…

This podcast is an open and honest conversation by veteran youth leaders who are struggling together to move forward. We all come from different perspectives and serve in different areas. What we know for sure is, we love Jesus, and we love young people. And sometimes, that is enough.

Here is the link for information about the special session of the General Conference

Here is the link to the post-General Conference gathering that was held in East Ohio.

Hello…Who’s That Calling?

In this podcast, we talk about our own calling, and how to incorporate the terminology and understanding into our young people’s ministries.  I believe God has a purpose for each one of us. Our job is to search for that purpose. This includes our profession, but also just our daily lives, “What is it I need to do today for God?” The more we talk about this with teens, the more they will understand that God does care about us, our lives and our decisions.  Figuring out the future is probably on of the most stressful decisions for many teens, but youth leaders can help!  Give them space to explore, connect them with mentors who can help, and pray for discernment for them. Allow them time to dream and search for God’s purpose in their lives. Also, be sure to share your journey.  I’m not sure any of us knew what we wanted to do at 18 years old!? Help them understand most of us have been there, and are still figuring it out! If they do feel a call to ministry, direct them to your pastor or District Superintendent (if you are United Methodist). What are some of the things  you have done to help students explore their call?

Daring to Empower Teens with Compassionate Leadership Skills

The biggest impact we can have on young people in our communities is through teaching those in our fold leadership development skills.  If we spend our time teaching our young Christian friends how to influence others, our efforts to spread the Gospel will multiply.  As our country slowly lowers the expectations of our leaders, it is up to us to teach teens the importance of character and compassion in leadership.  Let’s be honest, no matter where you fall politically, or if we look at the business sector, or the sports and entertainment world, our young people have plenty examples of inadequate leaders.  I have found it easy to teach lessons on leadership through studying Jesus in the Gospels, but there is also plenty of curriculum available.  Tim Elmore is one of my favorite authors on the subject of Growing Leaders. Check out his website. He has done some interesting research and has great curriculum available.  You can also find some of his stuff in our conference Media Center.  I also like the resources from Group.  Don’t shy away from using the adult curriculum for teens.  I have also used Doug Field’s book, “Help, I’m a Student Leader” and The Leadership Lab from Discipleship Ministries.  All good stuff. Just find what works best for your personality as a leader and the personalities of your group.  As we work to walk beside teens and young adults through their faith journey, teaching them leadership skills, in particular SERVANT leadership skills is a MUST.  What has worked in your area to teach these important lessons?

Packing Day

 

 

Life After Youth Group. Two YA perspectives.

Earlier this summer I had one of my past “youth group kids” reach out to me.  This person is no longer a kid, but an adult with a family and a career.  We have kept track of each other on social media, but haven’t actually spoken in 16 years.  She was going through some tough things and as she was sorting it out, was feeling a call to ministry and wanted to talk through it with me.  Those of us in youth ministry all have similar stories.

I have been asked numerous times why I am in Young People’s Ministries.  Well, let me tell you, it certainly is not for the pay or the 5 star accommodations on youth trips.  Let’s be honest, why would anyone want to be a part of youth ministry?  It has to be something you are called to.  However, it is in the moments as I shared, that reminds me exactly why I love what I do.

Most of the time we never see the fruit of the seeds we plant, but God does.  He tills the soil, we plant the seed, and He waters and nurtures the sapling into a strong adult.  It’s by faith that we send them off, trusting God to see our work through to fruition.

The Podcast today is an interview with two college students who talk about their lives after youth group, what was important to them and what they took away with them from their own church experiences. Pay close attention to how important volunteers in youth ministry were to these two!  They were both very open and honest with us.

Not Safe for Church: 6th Commandment~Thou Shall Watch the Throne: Rethink Leadership

When you think about the leaders in your church, what comes to mind?  Who are they? What are the requirements to be in those positions?  What are their responsibilities?  I have seen more times than not, churches being led by mainly men, particularly white and mostly those over the age of 50.  Now, I don’t have anything against older men being in leadership positions; however, what message do we send to the generations from the post-civil rights movement if they are not represented at the table where decisions are made?  That’s exactly right…your opinion does not matter to us.

In the sixth chapter, the authors of Not Safe for Church get right to the heart of why I believe many young people are walking away from our churches.  Powe and Smothers hit on the lack of younger leadership in the church.  Think about it this way, imagine walking up to a group of acquaintances at a party.  These people are in the middle of a conversation about something you are passionate about, it could even be a topic you deal with in your place of employment.  Throughout their conversation you try to interject your opinion or thoughts, but they only politely smile and go about their discussion, never really listening, responding or including you in the discourse.  What would you do?  I know the action I would take, I would eventually walk away and find another group where I felt welcomed.  Church, do you understand that this is exactly what you are doing to young leaders?

In the United Methodist Church, we actually do invite young people to sit at the table of committees and boards, because that is what our discipline dictates.  However, more times than not, they are “token” members.  They are there, but are never actually a part of the conversation.  Or, as Not Safe for Church points out, the meetings are set at times that are impossible for young people to attend.  Again, not very welcoming.  Naturally, we ask ourselves why? Why are young people not invited or included?  The book states fear as being a probable cause.  Fear of the unknown, fear of failure.  We like things to be the way they have always been, it is easier that way.  Young people may bring a different perspective, a new way of thinking; they may bring change.  Things the church fears most.  Fear is one reason young people are excluded from our conversations, but also, I challenge it could also be lack of awareness.  Maybe young people are not invited because leaders never stopped to thing about the fact that they are missing or have great ideas.  After all, we all get comfortable in our settings.  We like the people that are around us, those that are on our committees.  They are the ones that do everything anyway, so it is just easier to ask our friends.  Young people are also seen as irresponsible, and non-comital.  But is that really true? I think not.  I see young people committing to causes all the time.  But, they have a vested interest in these organizations.  These are opportunities where decisions are being made, lives are being impacted and change is happening.

When the church doesn’t engage young people in leadership positions, they will inevitably find other places to use their gifts.  They will commit their time and energies into systems that are open to their way of leadership, their innovative ideas, and their way of thinking.  God is still going to use these individuals to further His mission.  As Powe and Smothers states, “God’s vision is larger than any of us can imagine and will come to fruition even when we attempt to thwart it.” (p. 81) I do not believe anyone would deny, the research that shows, Christianity in American today is in decline.  Our churches are slowly sinking.  No one sitting at the table currently seems to have an answer.  Has anyone taken the time to think, maybe we have ignored the very generation who holds the answers to multiplying God’s kingdom here on earth?  Are we too afraid, too self-absorbed to listen?  “If we are focused on God’s mission and not the throne, then we are opening ourselves to bringing it to fruition.” (p. 82)

Church, let’s realign ourselves to seek God’s mission for our churches, and don’t leave anyone out of the discussion.  Seek to find young people who are willing and very able to be mentored into leadership positions.  Give them an opportunity to have a voice at the table.  Allow God to use them in new and exciting ways.  Revivals in the Church have always started with young people, maybe it’s time to allow them the chance in the church to show us what they are made of, what gifts God has given them.  Maybe it’s time for us to listen, and for young people to do the talking.