Last weekend my youth group attended the T3 youth conference, hosted by the Lewisville church of Christ in Lewisville, TX. Reed Swindle, the Youth and Family Minister at Lewisville, did an excellent job of organizing a spiritually uplifiting and educational program. It was designed to encourage teens by providing answers to some of the tough questions that they face as they seek to live out and communicate their faith in a curious and sometimes hostile world.
As I observed the conference and my youth group, it occurred to me to wonder about the questions being asked and answered. I struggle with knowing what questions teens are dealing with, so I was curious to see the response of the kids to the various sessions being offered.
The conference was set up so that the kids chose 5 out of 30 or so sessions that they could attend. In descending order of popularity, here are the sessions by number of attendees in my youth group:
- Where Do I Begin Studying the Bible For Myself – 12 attendees (out of 18)
- How Did We Get The Bible? – 8
- Are Members of the Church of Christ The Only Ones Going to Heaven? – 7
- Where Did The Church Of Christ Come From? – 7
- How To Let Jesus be Seen In Me – 7
- How To Make Prayer Work – 7
- Does A Person Have To Be Baptized To Go To Heaven? – 6
- How Does God View Sin? – 6
- How To Survive High School – 6
- How To Make My Faith Stronger – 6
- How To Prepare Myself To Be Faithful In College – 4
- What About “Once Saved, Always Saved”? – 3
- Is Homosexuality A Sin? – 2
- How to Make A Biblical Conversation Peaceful and Productive – 2
- Hey, I Might Want to Be A Youth Minister or Preacher One Day – 1
- How To Lead Friends To Christ When They Have Problems – 1
- How To Be A Spiritual Leader On Your Team – 1
- How To Use and Abuse Social Media – 1
- The Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments – 1
- Why Do You Take The Lord’s Supper Every Week – 1
- Why Doesn’t Your Church Have Instruments – 1
- Hey, I Might Want to Be A Missionary One Day – 0
- How to Reach the Hispanic Community – 0
- How to Start A Bible Discussion – 0
- How to Get An Unfaithful Youth Group Member Back – 0
- The Old Testament in 35 Minutes – 0
- The Conversion Accounts in Acts – 0
- What is Premillennialism – 0
A couple of observations, then a few questions.
First – by far the most popular class was the one about studying the Bible personally, followed closely by the session about where the Bible comes from. To me this translates into a two-fold thrust of curiosity – the authority and applicability of the Bible. That definitely lines up with what I’ve been observing about young people: they want to follow God as he reveals himself in the Bible… BUT… they need to be given sufficient reasons to do so. They have legitimate questions about the authority of Scripture and how to understand it. Pat answers on the order of “because the Bible says so” will not be sufficient to sustain them as their intellect and curiosity develop. They must be told and shown why the Bible is authoritative in the first place, and how we got to our “the Bible says so” answer.
Second observation – I think there’s a potentially misleading division in the attendance figures I give above. The “How to Survive High School” class had 6 in attendance, and the “How to Prepare Myself To Be Faithful In College” class had 4. I think those classes could really be viewed as one general topic of faithfulness in the world, and particularly academia. (Incidentally, there were no overlapping attendees in those classes, and the attendees split down into older and younger for the college and high school classes, respectively – which I think bears out my observation). When combined with the numbers for the “How to Let Jesus Be Seen In Me” class, another favorite, I’m getting a picture that these kids want and need practical solutions for living out the Christian faith.
- Are these the “right” questions? If you have the privilege of working with young people, would you focus on a whole different set of questions, or do these topics cover a fairly good range of what your group is curious about and struggling with? Or your own child(ren), for that matter.
- What other questions might you suggest? (I might personally suggest “How do you know that Jesus rose from the dead?” or something along those lines).
- What are some practical ways that you have found useful in pulling questions out of young people?
I remember sitting in a church listening to a preacher tell about someone that had made a profound impact on his life and ministry. This unnamed friend had prayed for the preacher every day, at the same time each day, for several years. Friends like those are the kind you thank God for – especially when facing the rigors of ministry.
I’ve observed over time that there are several who have this kind of heart toward the minister of God’s word. And then there are others, who may not consider the beneficial effect their prayers may have on a man’s ministry. Read the rest of this entry »
In my home there’s a nook. In the nook is a desk, next to the desk is a shelf, and on the shelf is a book – the highly recommended The God of the Towel by Jim McGuiggan. As I sit at the desk, contemplating my life of ministry, my work at Montwood, and tomorrow’s Bible class – and the tremendous impact that I want to have in all of them – the following words leap off the page at me: Read the rest of this entry »
I want to look at one last possible explanation of the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. We somehow have to explain the empty grave of Jesus 3 days after his death and burial. We somehow have to explain the incredible change that came over his disciples that caused them to go into the whole world preaching Jesus. We somehow have to explain that Christianity grew out of this movement despite all of the hostile forces against it. I believe that the best and most reasonable explanation for all of these facts is that Jesus did rise from the dead.
One final alternative explanation is that the followers of Jesus all suffered from hallucinations and delusions; that when they thought they saw Jesus alive after he had died, they were simply succumbing to their own fevered imaginations. Is this explanation possible? Read the rest of this entry »
Many people think that the central claim of Christianity, that Jesus was raised from the dead, is nothing more than a myth or superstition. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the Apostle Peter specifically said that he and the other disciples had not followed cleverly devised myths, but were eyewitnesses of Jesus; and the apostle John said that he was presenting what he had heard, seen, examined and touched. These men presented the resurrection of Jesus not as a mythical story, but as a fact of history to which they could give personal testimony.
Nevertheless, some insist that this claim has no historical truth. One way skeptics attempt to do this is by saying that the disciples of Jesus went to the wrong tomb, found that tomb empty, and mistakenly jumped to the conclusion that Jesus had risen from the dead. Read the rest of this entry »
It is difficult for us, after so many Christian centuries during which the cross has been venerated as a sacred symbol, to realize the unspeakable horror and disgust that the mention or indeed the very thought of the cross provoked. By the Jewish law anyone who was crucified died under the curse of God (Gal 3:13, quoting Deut 21:23). In polite Roman society the word “cross” was an obscenity, not to be uttered in conversation. Even when a man was being sentenced to death by crucifixion, an archaic formula was used that avoided the pronouncing of this four-letter word – as it was in Latin (crux). This utterly vile form of punishment was that which Jesus endured, and by enduring it he turned that shameful instrument of torture into the object of his followers’ proudest boast. “May I never boast,” said Paul (by contrast with other people’s grounds of boasting), “except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal 6:14)…
FF Bruce, Philippians
In the letter to the Romans (1:3-4), Paul said that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead. The fact that Jesus was raised from the dead is the ultimate proof that every claim he made for himself, such as having the ability to forgive sins (Luke 5:20-26), and being the only way for men to be in relationship with God (John 14:6), is absolutely true.
There’s no question that Jesus did die on the cross.
But some have suggested that though he did die and was buried, there must be a way to explain the fact that the grave was empty three days later without resorting to a miraculous or supernatural answer. One suggestion has been that the tomb was found empty, not because he rose from the dead, but rather because someone stole his body. Read the rest of this entry »