This discussion is on Chapter 3 of Genesis. Students sometimes have a hard time with this scripture, trying to understand if the serpent is actually speaking or if the serpent is the devil, etc. Once again, remind students about Fact vs Truth. And the over-arcing themes we can take away from this story. When I lead this lesson, I will begin with having students do a “readers theater” because you can almost act it out. Point out the import aspects: it NEVER says the serpent is the devil, notice the serpent goes to Eve, not Adam, God comes looking for them, Adam almost blames God by saying look at what this person you gave to me did, etc.
Student Learning Outcomes:
Understand Fact vs Truth as it pertains to this story
Knowing that even when we feel separated from God, He is right beside us
No matter what we do, or what we think, God love us, and we were created in His image
You can not be defined by your sins or mistakes
Having knowledge isn’t always a positive thing
Begin by asking each student to share a vice. (Give them a personal example: Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, a T.V. show, etc.) It is helpful to start each lesson with a simple/personal question to “break the ice” for shy students.
This story can easily be read through “readers theater”. Ask volunteers to play the parts of Eve, Adam, the serpent, and God. Then have someone read and narrate the rest of the story.
Challenging elements of this story:
The text doesn’t say the serpent is the devil
It is clear that God created the serpent with all the other creatures on earth which also suggests that he created humans, rules and the pitfall that will trip them up
It appears that what God said wasn’t entirely true. The serpent tells the unvarnished truth since humans DO NOT actually die upon eating the fruit.
God doesn’t seem entirely omnipotent at every moment in this story. God seems not to know exactly what is going on and has to ask questions to better ascertain what has happened.
One of the punishments of woman is for man to rule over her. So, God’s original design was for man and woman to be EQUAL.
IF we take this story from a non-literal perspective, we avoid some of the obvious pitfalls of a literal interpretation and have the opportunity to, instead, think about some of the deeper truths about our own humanity that run through the narrative.
In what ways has this story been used to cause or justify harm to others? Or to ourselves?
What, really, is the “sin” that trips up humanity? Is it insecurity? A failure to recognize that we have already been made in God’s image and have everything we need?
How is knowledge and understanding different? When is knowledge bad?
Is there anything surprising or encouraging about this story?
We have all been hurt one time or another by people (those we love or perfect strangers). Sometimes those that hurt us do it intentionally; other times, it is inadvertently. There are times people hurt us, and they never realize what they have said or done affected us at all. So what do you do? How do you handle hurt that comes from another person? While there are lots of options, ignore, confront, talk through it, move on, hurt them back, your decision has the biggest impact on yourself and your own mental health. As a United Methodist, I am navigating life post-general conference while trying my best to rise about the hurt, move on and find ways to focus on the things that matter most. This podcast addresses the pain that has been felt on all sides. What I have come to realize since general conference is NO ONE is going to “win” no matter the direction our denomination decides to take. Someone (many people) will be hurt. So, I am choosing to start asking God to direct my actions, my path, my decisions in ways that don’t cause pain for someone else. My prayers are not about denominational decisions, my prayers are about people. God, help me see people the way you do, love people the way you do, treat people the way you would. God, help me be more like you, help me make this the most important thing in my life today.
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?
Youth Pastors say the most difficult part of the job is managing ministry with the lives of busy families. But we want nothing more than to support parents during the teen years. On today’s podcast we talk with a mom of 4 young adults that grew up in church and youth group. She shares why church was important to her family. What are you doing to connect to parents and/or to help parents connect with one another?
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?
I would not have survived 19 years of youth ministry without the support of others who “get it”. My first couple of years, I didn’t have anyone I knew. It made all the difference for me, once I started networking and finding others who worked with teens to share ideas. This is why I have worked so hard at trying to develop the Youth Leader’s Network in East Ohio. We share our joys, our prayer concerns, what is working, where we’ve messed up, good mission destinations and curriculum. We have coffee together, laugh and cry. We start as colleagues and end up friends. There is a group of us going to the National Youth Workers Convention in St. Louis in November. Would love to have more in our group. Comment below if you are going or interested in coming along. If you don’t have a connection, please let me know, and I can’t get you to one. Keep in mind, we are better together!