Don’t let the fear of turning students off keep you from teaching and challenging them with God’s word.
Sometimes, we may think that keeping things simple will keep students happier.
The overall message of Jesus was simple – love God and love people and he showed us practical ways to do this.
But Jesus wasn’t simple. He confused his disciples nearly every time he taught. He was always explaining later.
He didn’t hold back in his expectation of what it meant to be a disciple. Leave it all, pick up the cross, and follow me.
He didn’t sugarcoat the truth. In fact, he told them they would have trouble in this life – and they did!
And all of this attracted them. They stayed with him and the message of hope rested on them.
As the U.S. culture continually shifts away from the Christian foundation, we need more than ever to equip people of faith. As far as student ministry goes, they need to know the Word, but they also need to be challenged by it, wrestle with it and dive into the things that may not be all that much fun to teach.
How are you challenging your students with God’s word? How are you equipping them to not only learn but to internalize what they are learning by wrestling with it?
Here are some thoughts:
Don’t brush over messy details
Every hero in the Bible dealt with sin and struggle. Some have argued that one of the reason we can believe in the Bible is that the writers didn’t try to make it look better than it was. There wasn’t a perfect leader. All of them – Moses, Noah, Issac, Joseph, Peter, David, Paul – at various points in their lives were murderers, adulterers, liars, cheaters, and the list goes on. Yet God still used them. Don’t be afraid of the messy story.
Don’t dismiss doubt
Faith and doubt can be friends. We must create a place to share doubts without being judged. I like what Kara Powell says:
“Perhaps it isn’t doubt that’s toxic to faith, but silence. In order for families to grow with one another, they need to create an atmosphere where faith is something that can be discussed—and where doubts can be shared without fear.”
Don’t hold back
Lovingly confront students. Set expectations and challenge them. Be encouraging, but don’t be afraid to ask tough, spiritual questions. These can be turning points in a student’s life. Keep your conversation seasoned with the invitation of Jesus – to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and to love others.
Keep praying for the next generation.
I’m praying for you!
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