What the what?!

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.

Don’t Be a Lone Ranger

One of the hardest parts of youth ministry is finding enough volunteers.  I don’t care how big your church is, or how many teens are connected to the ministry, EVERYONE is in need of more help!  If you are at the end of your rope, wondering where to look for another warm body, believe me, you are NOT alone!  We are all there.  Having friends in ministry helps to bounce ideas for volunteer recruitment and to lean on one another.  This Podcast is a discussion with youth leaders who talk about how to recruit leaders whether you are a paid staff member or a head volunteer in ministry.   They also share innovative ways they have found to include all generations in ministry.  What are some of the steps you have taken to recruit volunteers?

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.