How often do you give teens or young adults the opportunity to ask the really hard questions? I mean the really hard questions about faith/the Bible. We are about to embark on a study this school year that will help you, especially those youth leaders, like myself, who have not been to seminary, dive into a Bible study that will allow the Bible stories teens learn as children to collide with the knowledge they gain in middle and high school.
We MUST give them a safe place to explore and ask questions now before they leave us. So often we see young people leaving high school and leaving their faith. I believe there are several reasons for this fleeing, but one excuse is that they never make faith their own. The church does not give them the opportunity to grapple with their faith and really question it. Teens so often are afraid they are going to hurt our feelings if they question us, so they just go along to make the adults around them happy, giving us all the canned answers to our questions.
Throughout the school year, I will be teaching a high school Sunday school class along the way, they will be my “field study group” as we develop questions. There will be podcasts for you to listen to and/or to share with your group and this blog will give you questions to ask. It doesn’t matter if you are a youth leader, Sunday school teacher, small group leader, or young adult, we hope that this study will help you navigate through the Bible in a new and exciting way, and in the end, we pray that it will help you draw nearer to God and strengthen your faith. If you chose, these studies can all be done one after another, or pick and choose the ones that fit into other studies you are doing.
Here is how I recommend you begin week one with your group:
Start with expectations during the study of the group. What are the expectations of the students/teens of one another and of the leader? What are your expectations as the leader?
How would you describe the Bible to a non-believing friend?
Establish it wasn’t meant to be a science or history book.
Look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Ask the following questions:
- When Paul wrote this, what did he mean by “ALL” scripture? (OT, the gospels were not considered scripture yet.
- What does it mean to be “inspired” by God? Has God ever inspired you? Has the Bible?
- The Greek word “theopneustos” is being used here and translates to “inspired by God.” See if students can guess the meaning of this compound word: “theo” (God) and “pneu” (to breathe out).
- Interesting that scholars think Paul made this word up because it is not found anywhere prior to Paul using it here. What are some words that have been made up in our language in the last 5 years? Why are new words made up?
- When else have we read in the Bible about God breathing? (Gen 2)
- We are going to get to this story next week, but why is God’s breath talked about in Genesis? (God breathing life into man.)
- How is God breathing life into man similar to God breathing into the authors of scripture?
- What about His breath actually breathing into scripture?
- Is scripture alive? (You want them to get to a place where they see that it is alive and relevant in our lives today.)
What Biblical stories did you learn as a child that now you think, “What the what”? -start a list-
Ask if anyone can (or maybe see if they can work in groups) write out a Biblical timeline (this only works if you students have grown up in the church).
There are plenty of resources available, but I have found Making Sense of the Bible by Adam Hamilton helpful and the basis for this lesson.
Let’s start this journey together with our young people. You don’t have to have all the answers or agree with everything we discuss in the podcast/blog. The important point is to just open up the discuss and allow teens the opportunity to ask questions and make their faith their own.