It can be real easy to skim or read a passage of Scripture for information. But in order to get transformed by the Word, it takes time. Repetition can help too. And I’m not talking about repetition for memorization sake either. Covering the same passage for several days in a row opens up the opportunity to dig beyond the surface. Cross referencing different versions and checking for the first mention of key words can make the Word come alive. Personally discovering something that you never knew before can create excitement and desire to dive deeper into the Word.
If you lead a small group consider having it read the same passage everyday for a week. Encourage them to stop and meditate on each word. This kind of repetition can help people develop a confidence that they can study and find treasure in the Bible on their own.
Many times youth groups teach teens what to think not how to think and process through all the competing messages that the world throws at them. When Christian teens get to college, many of them are challenged to seriously think for themselves about their personal beliefs for the first time in their lives. One of the best things that a youth leader can do is help teens to know God for themselves and learn how to mine treasure out of the Bible.
So instead of dishing out answers to students, consider leading them on a journey of personal discovery. Ask them why questions and encourage them to read the Bible and dig for the answers that they want.
While just answering their questions may be easier at the time, it will produce robots who spit out answers not young Christians who know how to combat the world with light. This causes problems when youth leave home for the first time and don’t know how to think for themselves. A speaker at the National Youth Workers Conference said that more than 60% of teen Christians leave the Church once they graduate from high school and go to college. Why the disconnect?
The answer is fairly easy to figure out for anyone who went to college. The worldview they had been taught since childhood was far smaller than what they encounter in the real world.
If you ask a teen why they belief in the gospel or why is it wrong to have premarital sex, do not pre surprised if most Christians teen struggle to give Biblical answers. This is especially true if they are pressed for specifics not just general Sunday school answers. If you keep on asking why questions, most will typically get to a place where they will honestly say that they do not know.
Youth need to be taught that the Bible does apply to there life now. Being a Christian is not just about going to heaven. It is primarily about living the best life here and now as guided by the Holy Spirit. It is about reclaiming creation as God intended it. What we do and become now is preparation for eternity.
No matter how effective we are at teaching, if we focus on the wrong things, we will not achieve the desired results.
The following thoughts and quotes came from the National Youth Workers Conference in Atlanta. These ideas are revolutionary. Be warned – read further at your own risk.
• “Are you teaching kids how to do the right things to get out of here? No wonder they are bored…It’s not how can I get into heaven but how can I bring heaven here. I don’t use the word evangelism because it sounds like some kind of disease and if you are in the church, it probably is…For Jesus, eternal life is not some day it is now. We are reclaiming God’s plan for the world.” – Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, Nooma director
• “Your job is the relentless pursuit of who God made you to be, everything else is sin.” – Rob Bell
• “Evangelism is an invitation to a way of life that answers the deeper longings in my life not fire insurance.” –Ruth Haley Barton, author and speaker on spiritual transformation
• “A good journey begins with knowing where you are and being willing to go somewhere else…Truth is my quiet times were very busy.” – Ruth Haley Barton
• “We are asking the wrong questions. Instead of asking, “If you die tonight would you go to heaven or hell?”, we should be asking, “If you live for 30 or 50 more years, what kind of life would you live?” – Mike King of Youth Front
• “There are three requirements for relevance – content, presentation and context. You have to be aware of current felt needs. You have to elevate peoples’ awareness of their unfelt needs. You have to address their needs sin way they consider helpful. Consider these questions. What’s the question that I want them to want me to answer? How do I get them to beg me to answer the question I know they need someone to answer? – Andy Stanley, pastor North Point Church
• “God has a plan for this generation and the degree to which God will work depends on our willingness to obey Him.” – Steve Fitzhugh, former pro football player and inner city youth worker