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?