- “I just don’t know what to think about kids in this generation.”
- “Kids today just want to play video games. They have no desire to study the Bible”
- “I’m scared to think of what the future of the church will be when I look at the next generation.”
I have heard these statements along with countless others. Almost all of them, in one way or another belittling young people in the church for their immaturity, or lack of Bible knowledge. It comes across as a very gloom and doom picture of the future of the church. *Disclaimer* – Not everyone in the church feels this way. Maybe not even the majority. However, it is a very common sentiment that I hear verbalized (and posted on social media) and I think it is time we address this at it’s core.
Are there kids in the church today who do not know their Bibles, have no depth of faith, and are plugged in to seemingly everything but their God? Yes. However, I think it is generally those of us who are teaching them who are at fault.
If you are a Bible class teacher for the young people where you worship, can I beg of you to strive to challenge them in your class? No, I’m not talking about playing a trivia game and challenging them to answer more questions than their classmates. I’m talking about presenting a real challenge to their thinking. There are exceptions to every statement that I might want to make on this subject but I feel confident in saying that the young people where you worship are smarter than you give them credit for and you are not challenging them enough to grow in their faith.
I want you to consider with me what many of our high school students are accomplishing academically. Not only are they “surviving school” but they are doing quite well. They are enrolled in honors classes, they are taking advanced classes that I am 100% certain I would not do well in. Many are taking college courses while still in High School. They do this all while playing sports, participating in band, being on the student council, and the list goes on. I say that to say this… We are failing our young people when the schools challenge them to think more than we do.
When you have such bright young people who are routinely challenged to grow in their thinking and their reasoning while they are being educated, but when they step into the Bible class all they receive is surface level information we are reinforcing to them what Satan is trying to convince them of, and that is simply, “You don’t need the church, you’ve heard all of this stuff before anyways.”
I am NOT suggesting that there is no value in repetition. I am not suggesting that once you hear a lesson on a certain topic or book of the Bible you won’t need to listen to it again. What I am suggesting is that if a student is capable of studying advanced classes in school they are capable of diving in to the book of Romans rather than studying the book of James for the 3rdtime in 2 years.
Here are just a couple of suggestions for our consideration:
When you teach teens… Raise the Standard.
We need to recognize that there is no distinction in scripture between Christians and Christian teenagers. Every Christian is called to be a disciple. Jesus called people to be disciples. Luke 9:23 Jesus said that anyone who wanted to be His disciple needs to deny themselves and take up their cross. Being a disciple costs something. It isn’t free. It isn’t easy. It isn’t always pleasant. Those of us who teach young people need to raise the standard. We cannot be satisfied with keeping someone in a seat, attending each week. The standard is much higher than that. Seeing a young person develop into a disciple of Jesus will not happen unless that young person is taught what it means to be a disciple to begin with.
When you teach teens… Don’t try to talk on their level.
I have watched teachers/preachers who are great at what they do, fall into this trap. They have great depth of Bible knowledge. But, when they teach teens they drop the level of their lessons about 5 years beneath their audience. Teens are smart. When they see this, they see right through it and it turns them off. I had a conversation with a teen recently who approached me about this very subject. He said, “I don’t want someone who is preaching to try to relate to me, I want them to teach me.”
When you teach teens… Show them the beauty of the Word.
Teaching teens should not just be about teaching lessons to regulate their behavior. Our focus should be turning them into people who know and love the Lord. The behavior will work itself out when that happens. Studying Genesis? Show them the promise made in chapter 3:15. Point out to them how God fulfilled that promise. Studying Exodus? Don’t just talk about the Passover feast. Show them the shadows of things to come. Talk about our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). Don’t just skip past the obscure scriptures detailing how many days the Israelites needed to wait after getting the lamb before sacrificing it. Show them it was the same number of days Jesus was in Jerusalem before the crucifixion. Make them fall in love with the finger prints of God throughout history and show them the control that He has. Don’t just focus on the easy to discuss. Bring out the depth of the beauty in God’s Word. Challenge them to think. Challenge them to really come to know the God of the Bible.