yellow door

Last night in my student small group we had an interesting discussion.  It was about the reality of a place called “Heaven” and the “other place” called Hell.

Everyone in my group agreed that they didn’t want to spend an eternity in a fiery pit separated from God.

As we dug deeper into the questions of “what it will really be like when we die,” one girl threw out this statement, “I think Heaven is going to be boring. What are we going to even DO all day? Isn’t it pain that pushes us to be better and try harder? If that’s missing how will we know what success is?”

Then someone else admitted something profound.  “I know it’s supposed to be comforting to know that God has my future all planned out, but honestly, it sounds a little creepy.  Does this mean here on earth I just am His puppet, and then I go to heaven where we are all robots?”

I was glad at the vulnerable honesty of my students.  What they are really asking is this:

“If I let God have total control of EVERYTHING in my life, does this mean I get nothing out of it?”

How much of our experience here in “this world” is spent striving?  We want better. We want more. We think  “achieving” success, however we define it, is what’s important.  In our heart of hearts isn’t this a fear many of us Christ followers have?

Even for the most confident, “Godly” people here on this planet there is a nagging at our soul.  We grapple with indecision, insecurity, selfishness and whether we admit it or not “caring” a little too much what others think of us.  No matter how hard we try to find our identity in the Lord something seems to be missing. It’s like looking in a cracked mirror.  Even when our lives are redeemed we live in this “Fallen world.”

So what if it’s about this?  What if we approach this familiar question from a different perspective?

We let Jesus have it all NOW, because then we get a glimpse of what it will feel like to “let go” and “be ourselves.”  It was always meant to be about a relationship.  Heaven is about FINALLY hitting a point where we get to just be who we were always meant to be.  It’s not about holding our head high and ignoring the “Haters.”  Instead, all of the ache of what we’re “not” will fade away. We get to be the Creator’s Created, fully accepted, each with a part to play for all of time. In short- “You were made for so much more than this. “  Don’t we all want to know we have a bigger part to play?

Now THAT answer seemed to hit a cord with all of us. It’s about Him because He is For US…

How would you handle this “Heaven” and “Future” question?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

- Leneita

@leneitafix

Recently, I got one of my good friends to help me co-lead my small group. Leading a small group is his very first taste of youth ministry and it has been such a cool thing to be a part of. One of the cool parts about helping him is realizing how much God has taught me about leading a small group over the past three years. I thought I would share three of the most important lessons that I shared with him:

-It’s all about the discussion! Small group isn’t the place the lecture. Too often, small group leaders take up their entire lesson sharing what they want to talk about. While I admire their passion for sharing what God has put on their heart, small group is a place where students learn and discover, and a part of the process is making them do a little work. Small group is a place for students to grow together as a group. They should be processing and engaging with each other. As a small group leader, we are simply there to facilitate a conversation. Always find a way to get them talking and engaging with the material. They should be speaking WAY more than you should be.

-Meet them where they are at. I feel like this is something that many first year small group leaders struggle with. Part of being a small group leader is being intuitive. You need to be able to feel out where your students are at. I think some first time leaders go into it expecting high school students to know a lot about the Bible already, so they plan lessons about advanced doctrine. The truth is, many students aren’t ready for that, many students still can’t even tell you the Gospel! We have to see where are students are at in their faith and meet them there. Don’t wait for them to catch up to where you want them to be, go back and help them get there.

-You have to invest in social stock. I was talking with a small group leader about spending time with students and he didn’t see the point of just getting lunch with a student without a deep, life-changing conversation. What he hadn’t realized yet is the power of social stock. You can’t expect every student to immediately open up to you. You need to build social stock. Every inside joke, every Starbucks run, every midnight Denny’s breakfast builds your stock with them, allowing them to learn to respect you, trust you, and feel comfortable being vulnerable around you. Social stock is what takes a student from just hearing you, to listening to you. It is what lets you speak truth into their lives. This social stock is one of the most powerful tools we have in relational ministry.

What is one thing you would make sure to tell a first time small group leader?

Colton [Email||Twitter]