Teaching the teen Sunday school class can be a challenge. Trying to get their interests while trying to teach them important things. Trying to teach them important things without offending them. It gets complicated. They make it difficult sometimes but when they really get a hold of it all it is the most rewarding thing there is. When they are willing to learn from you instead of assuming they know it all already it can be such a blessing to watch them grow in the Lord. But how do we get them to listen? Some think fog machines and loud music is the answer. Some just try doing all kinds of crazy events. And crazy as it is, some youth leaders/teachers try to be like them and "fit in" with them. They're suppose to follow our example not the other way around. Not saying it's not fun to join in on their games and stuff but I mean, someone still needs to be the adult. All these events and stuff are really great but some things (yes the fog machine) is going just a bit to far. Youth leaders are trying too hard. What if the key to getting them to listen is to turn down the music and listen to them, not asking them what snacks they want at the next party, listen to them and their questions about life.
What if we sat down in Sunday school at a table with our Bibles and a notebook. What would you teach them? Let's put the electronics away, skip the pizza, and focus on life. Maybe Sally wants to know if the Bible really says tattoos are wrong because some post on facebook says it's not actually in the Bible. What if John wants to know if it's okay that he kissed his girlfriend because he met some people that don't believe in kissing till the wedding day now he's freaking out that he did something wrong. And what about Kathy who has been wandering if her swimsuit is considered modest and where is this modesty line anyways?
They have questions, especially the ones who are new to church. Iv'e been asked by a 14 year old if christians are allowed to cuss. They have crazy questions and they need answers. By the time I was teenager I had met the crazy fanatics that said I'd go to hell for how I dress (I don't wear tight clothes or even show my knees unless I'm swimming and I'm still covered up to my knees) and I had met people that wear tiny bikinis and spend their weekends drinking, yet called themselves christians. Thankfully these people did not cause me to become confused because I had a strong relationship with God, I knew how to ask Him for answers. My church had taught me how to deal with the devil when he throws confusion at us. Sadly I have realized that kids these days don't have lives where there's no question if your going to church this Sunday or not, it's optional if they feel like it and have nothing else to do. It's not priority to go to church. That's why we need to answer their questions when we do have them in church with us. Don't spend time planning the next party. Spend time growing in the Lord and in His word.
It's simple things, it's common sense things, to us that have been close to God for years. But what about the teen you pick up on Sunday's that's aloud to come to church because the parents liked the idea of a free babysitter while they get high. They're gonna watch you all sing some songs, they're gonna see you having good clean fun, and maybe even enjoy themselves. But did you answer their questions they have inside? Did your 10 minute motivation speech about God loving them no matter what tell them what a sin is? Will they go home knowing that they should turn off the R rated film, will it tell them that they shouldn't cuss, will they know that getting drunk is wrong, and premarital sex is sinful? They really don't know these things. Maybe they know some christians don't do these things but then there are people that claim to be saved but do all these things. It confuses them and they don't know who to listen to. This is why we need to teach more from the Bible it's self. I know it can be hard to understand for younger people but that's because they need to read it more.
So this is where that notebook and Bible sitting at a table comes in that I mentioned earlier. Tell them each to come to your next class with a question that they have about life. They can even be written on a paper and placed in a jar so their questions can remain anonymous and be drawn at random. Answer the questions you have time for. If there is a more delicate question that requires research then leave it for the first question that will start off your next class so you can be sure to give a full answer. These questions need to be answered from the Bible so they can know that it is truth. It's not someones opinion, it's God's Word. The Bible is our guide in life and they need to know how to use it.
It's hard to talk about the hard questions, but if they ask the questions it let's us know they're ready for the answers. Have the fun stuff, the pizza parties, the youth trip to the zoo, and the lock-ins. They need good clean fun things to do and time to build friendships with other christians. But when it's church time, it's time to focus. When Bible study starts it's time to answer questions. They go to school 7 hours a day, they can handle 30 minutes to an hour focusing on God without the flashy lights and crazy distractions. Let's teach them that being a christian is more than showing up to church, though it is very important, and teach them that it takes more than just being a good person to get to heaven. Help them answer their hard questions while they're young so they don't have to learn the hard way or sadly never learn.
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