Monday, April 18, 2011

Perspectives From the Field: How Do I Do Theology With Youth?

Dealing with theology is an incredibly important aspect of ministry. I believe that we too often leave out deep theological discussions and lessons for fear that it might go over the heads of our students. This is a devastating belief for both our ministries and for the future of the Church.

When dealing with theology and students I have found the most success in prayerfully and thoughtfully teaching page by page a book of the bible. For example, over the course of the last three years our High School ministry has gone through the books of John, Hebrews, and Paul’s letter to the Romans. When walking through the scriptures exegetically it is crucial to not simply pick and choose which scriptures that you enjoy the most. The point of going page by page through the scripture is challenging you, as the teacher, to teach things that normally you would not teach. This is fundamental in the creation of a holistic and theologically diverse understanding of scripture for students.

In preparation for these messages in our ministry we try to extensively look at the scriptures. We utilize many different commentaries, opinions, and thoughts to develop what we believe are the most theologically healthy and accurate interpretations of the original texts and meaning. (One of the joys of being a part of such a beautiful staff here at Church of the Servant is that I have a bunch of biblically gifted Elders and staff members to bounce thoughts and scripture thoughts off of.) Secondly, we prepare the base of our messages emphasizing the general message we want to convey and what we desire for students to take home. The main building blocks in our teaching theology to our students are these; stress the importance of scripture (in both the message and in students personal life), emphasize the centrality of Jesus in all scripture, giving scripture relevance to the daily living, and lastly, we will always give an open invitation to question and have conversation on what was taught and other aspects of scripture that are confusing or unclear. Giving the students the ability to think critically and question scripture is not only ok, but she be encouraged!

Theology is of enormous weight in ministry. It is the backbone of what is taught in each of our programs and small groups. Beyond this however is the call we have as ministers of truth to put Jesus at the forefront of any teaching or lessons we give. So in the end, we ask the question, “How did my teaching reveal Jesus to these students?” This question should drive everything we do in ministry and in life.

I end by extending my prayers out to you where you are today. I pray that God is moving in power in your ministries and I pray that you are constantly being renewed in your depth and knowledge of Jesus’ grace and love.

His Grace is Sufficient,

Jay Smith
Coordinator of High School Ministries
Church of the Servant
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

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