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Next month we’ll be starting a series on sex and dating, it’s an annual occurrence because it’s an issue that consume teenagers lives. It’s a difficult series because it involves a lot of emotions, a lot of perspectives and a boatload of tension. How we have talked about the series has changed since I started 7 years ago. For the first couple of years it was a matter of just laying out the truth, referencing it in the Bible. Now, the series has become more of a conversation because we’ve found that it’s not just about what they know but how to apply it to their every day life. We’re doing this by bringing in different speakers, creating a Q&A opportunity and just peeling back the layers of this complex topic.
This is one of those series we’ll visit each year and it’s one ever ministry should address on a regular basis. While there are an endless amount of topics we could talk about in ministry, I think there are a few that stand above the rest. Here are a few:
- Money: It’s definitely not the most attractive subject to talk about; however, it’s probably one of the most important. This country is in an economic mess because money has been viewed as an idol and not as a God honoring tool. How to spend money wisely, save conservatively and give freely are values that we want them to embrace. We aim at teaching them that tithing is a part of their relationship with God and that money is a tool that can further His kingdom.
- Sex: It’s such a broad subject and there is so much to cover from abortion to dating, homosexuality to pornography. Where to start and what to touch upon can be difficult. What we’ve found is teens want to know what the “Rules” are and how they can apply to their context. It’s a difficult subject to address at first; however, the more the conversation roles, the more comfortable people become.
- Science: I’m not sure about a whole series on science; however, many teens feel like they have to choose science or God. I had a teen ask me the other day what I thought about Creationism because her biology teacher told her that the Bible is a belief and science “just is”. Why aren’t we telling our students that science is an explanation of God’s creation? Science like sex and money is a tool, we just need to encourage the next generation to pursue as a way of giving God glory.
- Vocations: While I would love for my students to enter into ministry or the religious life, I would be just as happy to see them successful in any other career. When it comes to their future jobs we need to show them how to be a disciple in the mission field, whether they are an investment banker or bus driver. We also have to be careful to place pastor as a more important vocation than school teacher. If we can commission them to go and make disciples on Wall Street, sports fields and the local grocery store then we’re doing what God has commissioned us to do.
While it’s important for us to teach spiritual habits, the virtues, Biblical history and church dogma are essential. But, students won’t embrace them if we aren’t helping students to put this wisdom into practice, We also need to encourage them to lean into the tension and face the obstacles that might prevent them from moving along God’s path. Sometimes we need to look beyond the “traditional” topics and look at what this next generation needs to grow the church. To do this you need to look at what’s relevant, what’s important and what’s influential.
What subjects do you think are essential for a youth ministry to address?