Unacceptable Answers for Your Thinking Teens
Life in Progress Ministries
I spent Dec. 29–31 at the Youth Alive conference in St. Louis. About 300 students from Missouri youth groups were in attendance. It’s been more than a week since the conference, but I’m still recovering as I was a room sponsor for my home church, was on the Questions and Answers panel, taught a breakout session and played bass in the band. I’d like to share with you something I learned at this conference.
The youth group students in your church are thinking on deeper levels than you realize. They have to think deeply because being labeled as a Christian is not something that generates respect. It generates animosity from the majority of their peers and sometimes from teachers as well. “Christian” teenagers are not given initial labels of “nice,” “good kid,” etc., but rather many teenagers associate Christianity with “judgmental,” “closed-minded,” “bigoted” and possibly “stupid.” The Christian faith is not popularly assumed to be something that is true — it is not even considered morally good even if it was true — and so, for your students to hold firm, they need to be equipped to deal with hard questions.
Let me give you an example:
In my breakout session, I was speaking on Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (If you don’t know what this is, I implore you to research it. It is the default religion of America, especially teenagers.) to 12-to-18-year-old boys. They understood the material just fine. I asked if anyone had a question, and then I got blind-sided.
A 12-year-old boy raised his hand and asked in all sincerity something to this effect: “If God doesn’t want people to sin, but He knew that Satan would convince Adam and Eve to sin, and He knew that sin would cause all these terrible things in the world to happen to people, then why did He create Satan and allow him to go into the garden?”
Answer that off of the top of your head right now.
Having any trouble?
Now imagine being a teenager at school and being asked, “If your God is so powerful and loving, why are there children literally starving to death in Africa?” “If your Jesus loves you, why is he letting ISIS murder and rape thousands?” “If your God loves me, why are my parents abusive?” “Why do you Christians care so much about stopping two men or women who love each other from getting married? Isn’t ‘the greatest of these’ love? Aren’t you supposed to love your neighbor as yourself?”
The speaker at the conference is the pastor of a large church in a suburb of St. Louis. He told a story where a teacher at his daughter’s school literally made the class stand on separate sides of the room depending on their stance on same-sex marriage. Only his daughter and two or three others wound up on the opposed side. His daughter was later approached in the hallway…
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