Sometimes to teens it must sound like the only Christians who have testimonies worthy of sharing are those who have been addicts, teen parents or have been to prison. Ministers tell our teens over and over, children are expected to abandon the church when they leave home and live a period where they experiment with sin and reject God. A Protestant Rumspringa of sorts.(An Amish rite of passage when Amish teens enter the world for a time to confirm whether they want to remain Amish or prefer excommunication.)
While I understand statistics confirm many teens do reject God when they leave home, I don’t like it presented as the default option for our children. Teens who are struggling with sin may actually be convinced that it will be fine for them to experiment with a sinful lifestyle, in spite of their doubts and concerns. They assume they will have plenty of time to repent later. Unfortunately, some teens do not survive experimentation.
Most Christians will tell you faith is a huge part of living a Christian life. The Bible has chapter after chapter that discusses faith – what it is and its importance to the believer. The problem in our modern world is that the skeptics our children will encounter dismiss faith and demand only “logical” responses to their challenges.
How can parents encourage the faith that is “sure of what is hoped for and certain of what we do not see” in our children? (Hebrews 11:1) Is there a way to use logic without compromising faith? How can we prepare our children to have faith when surrounded by skeptics in the media, in their classrooms and in the world around them?
If you have been exposed to the Montessori Method of education or child-directed learning, you will probably adapt easily when the children in your Bible class begin to lead everyone off on a tangent. Most of you though, were exposed to a more traditional teacher-led educational style, particularly in Bible classes. Lesson plans were followed and those who tried to deviate were often ignored or corrected.
Letting the children take the class off on a tangent can be really scary. What if they start asking questions about subjects in the Bible that you weren’t prepared to teach? What if they manage to get the class so far off topic, the children don’t learn anything about God? The next time your class begins to get distracted by a tangential subject, I want to encourage you to think about allowing them a little leeway.
One of my favorite things I did when my daughter was young, was to start a mother-daughter book club. We met once a week during the summer, discussing the chosen book for the week. Every meeting featured crafts, games, refreshments or a field trip. The club included many of the girls in her school class and their moms.
Now I wish I had made it at least partially, if not entirely, a Bible book club. We tend to forget that the Bible is actually sixty-six separate books put together in one volume. Some books like Ruth and Esther are basically one long true story, while other books have multiple true stories within them. There is even poetry and wisdom literature.
The world values knowledge. We spend millions of dollars on education. Large cash prizes are awarded each year by the Noble committee to people they feel have contributed the most to certain fields of knowledge. Game shows give value to having even the most trivial knowledge as a part of your repertoire.
Yet we look around us in the world and see what looks like an absolute mess. If people are so smart, why are there so many problems in the world? Why do equally well educated people have polar opposite opinions on almost any topic? Why does it appear that seemingly well educated, intelligent people make really poor choices?