In a room filled with rambunctious junior highers bouncing off the walls with anticipation for our first youth meeting since May, our first meeting since creating a newly renovated youth room and rebranding with a new group name, I launched a new ministry year here at Ashworth Road Baptist Church. Our goal this year is for each youth to see the bigger picture of His story – the bigger story that takes place in the Bible. As such, I began the night with a lesson on Genesis 1.
But the difference between teaching Genesis 1, the creation of the heavens and the earth, to junior highers instead of elementary students is that junior highers have already learned at school and museums that the earth is billions of years old and has gone through many stages of evolution. With that as their new found knowledge, teaching them a literal, 6-day creation story of the Bible essentially forces them to decide if they will believe their teachers and scientists or their parents and pastors. Obviously, to many students, this feels like an impossible choice.
After teaching my lesson to the junior highers, the room cleared out, but the odor lingered. In marched my senior high students, holding a more subdued excitement, but a group of teens looking forward to the upcoming year. For them, I decided it was time to spend the year walking through the belief statements of our church. I’m sure their first response to hearing about a year of doctrine was less than positive, a desire to get back in the car and go do something more interesting. But then I started asking them questions about what they believe and why. Instantly, a dry conversation of the doctrine of scripture became an intriguing conversation about experience, logic, and the Bible. In this conversation, it was clear that culture tells teens to use experience and logic to guide their beliefs, not an ancient book.
So yes, being a teenager in America is difficult. The world is teaching our kids one thing, often poking fun at the beliefs of Christians. And often, the world’s depiction of Christianity is warped or incomplete, making their views look more attractive. My goal this year is to teach my youth how to navigate their faith and their culture. They must learn how to hold belief in Genesis 1 AND belief in science, which is not the enemy of faith. They must learn how to use the Bible as an authoritative source of truth and be able to defend themselves when asked why they believe the Bible.
The world makes it difficult to be a Christian teen. My job is to equip my teens to go into the world and intelligently discuss with others how the Bible holds the greatest truths ever told.