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I have a confession. For years I had no real grasp on what “apologetics” were–not as a youth, but as an adult and even as a youth pastor. It had the word “apology” in it, and it had to do with my Christianity. Did it mean I was telling people I was sorry for being a Christian? I felt like people tripped over helping me understand. Then someone finally explained it to me this simply: It’s knowing HOW to defend your faith in Jesus. Ohhh…Now that made sense.

I thought of all of the questions my students have when it comes to Christ.

How do I know other religions aren’t the “right” ones?

How can Jesus be God and the Son of God all at the same time?

My friend is a Jehovah’s Witness. What do I say to them?

These fall in the category of “apologetics,” I discovered.  Then there came a strange fear in learning about other religions from my youth. I had students who weren’t sure about Jesus, but thought it was “wrong” to know about what else was out there. What if they wanted to start believing that? I always seemed to have at least one student who knew someone who had become a “blank” when they found out about that religion. Would it be OK to be this too if they wanted to be?

There were so many confusions for all of us between evangelism and apologetics we could no longer just answer questions of this type, “on the side” . It was time for me to figure out, how to have focused conversations with my students on understanding what they believe, why they believe it, and what it means for their worldview. They understood the idea of having a relationship with Christ, and about sharing what it meant for them, sort of. They did not realize that Christianity is the only “religion” that offers a personal, close relationship with the living God. More so, they still had a lot of questions.

I think I had avoided this topic before, because I thought that apologetics were really too deep for my students. What had never struck me was that by actually delving into the topic it answered so many questions. Sharing the good news that Jesus is close and offers us a relationship is important. Knowing why you believe what you believe keeps you grounded. This would help them combat outward questions, but more so helped with inner debates.

Knowing what the Bible says is vital. Understanding why it is the truth, guiding us in daily life is transformational. As we embarked on understanding Jesus, our worldview, and other religions, I assured our students they could rest. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” There is nothing else that offers for us to KNOW our God and comprehend what it means to BELONG to Him. In short, the Lord is big enough to handle these questions.

I believe confidence grows in our students as they grasp hold of their faith in a way that is definitive. Evangelism is being able to tell others about who Christ is and what our relationship with Him looks like. Apologetics is about being able to understand the world around us, what they think, what we believe exactly so we can answer questions.

I am finding my students want the deeper answers for themselves just as much as they want to be able to tell others. I think I used to misunderstand that this was a topic only important for those who had a deep faith. Instead, it’s helping those who falter stand on the truth.

Shameless Plug: Want to explore this topic deeper? My friend Rezah did an AWESOME job with LIVE Apologetics. It explores our own thinking, answers about Christ, and then the most popular world religions and how they are different. Click here to learn more

Expect God to show up and He will.

Do you think our students need apologetics?  Yes or No?

- Leneita

 

curriculum 1

 

“What are you doing in your youth group?” I inquired, really just wanting the basic ideas of what this youth guy was trying with his students.   His answer was surprising.  “Well, like all young youth pastors, you know I tried writing all of my own curriculum and programming.”   My eyebrows raised, he went on.

“Then I realized I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. There is some great stuff out there. I just have to tweak it to fit my needs.”

This is a conversation that so many of us in youth ministry have had with ourselves. I used to believe there was “no” curriculum that fit the particular needs of my “unchurched” students.  Then my group became more complicated.  I had students who were growing up in church, those who had never attended and others who only attended on a sporadic basis. This meant each were coming through the door with a different worldview.

Who did I teach to? 

The tendency was to teach to one extreme or the other.  If I acted as if everyone was “unchurched” then my students who knew the Bible were bored.  On the other hand I could steam roll students and assume they were all spiritually mature. So to include EVERYONE in the room, how did I approach curriculum?

First Steps:

Start With the Basics (No Matter What):

I have found that just because a student as heard the “good news” (even most of their lives) doesn’t mean they have taken it to heart or even understand it for that matter. When working with an integrated group of students start at the beginning of each idea: Scripture, Story, History, and Application.  If you have students who tell you, “Oh, I know it all,”  find out exactly what they know. Use them as leaders. If they know the facts, how is affecting their lives?  Remind them we are always growing in our relationship with the Lord, whether a “new” or “old” believer.

Ask:

It’s so easy to assume what students need or want to focus on.   We find something we think is awesome and then wonder why they aren’t engaging.  Just the other day an 8th grader told me, “I hate those lessons when I have to watch a video of someone lecturing me on something.”

Assess your group.  What are they questioning?  What topics do they want to talk about?  In what ways do they learn? Then teach accordingly.

Research:

Just because the world is telling you that your students “should” like videos or technology or this or that, doesn’t mean that they will.  You know your students and what they respond to.  Do some research on what is out there for curriculum.

Before you tell me what you can’t afford, have you asked if there is a discount?  Call the companies and talk to salespeople, asking specific questions.

Mix & Match:

One curriculum may not hold all that you need. Don’t be afraid to try integrate a couple of options to best fit your scenario.  For example, LIVE Urban by Simply Youth Ministry touches on some basics of needing to know who you are in Christ. Elements by Youth Ministry 360 touches on the foundational keys to growing in our faith.  I know several ministries that will follow a unit of LIVE curriculum with Elements and so on.

 

What are the first questions you ask with curriculum?  Are you looking at who is in the room and constantly changing to meet students where they are at?

Stay tuned for the next 3 days. We are going to pull apart what it takes to transform curriculum to fit the needs of YOUR students.

Thanks for being committed youth workers,

Leneita

@leneitafix



live-x3I was talking with a youth worker today who was asking if LIVE Curriculum was worth it…
It is totally worth the investment of time and money. The price is more affordable than it looks. Think about all the messages LIVE offers, the consistency it provides, and it builds on itself. Win, Win, Win… And the investment of time is key. LIVE actually gives you time…it creates time in your life. I know that sounds weird, but with all the major prep complete you can grab a cup of coffee (or prune juice, I won’t judge) and have the lesson completely reviewed before your drink is gone leaving you margin in your schedule to meet with your leaders and students.

If you liked the FREE demos of LIVE Simply offers and want to take another step check out
Year With Jesus
Simple Truth or
Jesus-Centered Life
You and your leaders will be glad you did- mine are!

LIVECollegeWell, it’s true…Simply Youth Ministry is giving away 72 weeks of the College LIVE curriculum for FREE.  Sheesh, that is amazing.  Before I say how this giveaway works, let me just briefly share a few things I love about this resource:

  1. It walks through books of the bible and gives your students a great understanding of the flow of each book.  
  2. Every teaching point in this curriculum points to God.  The goal here is to put the focus where it belongs.  In other words, as the content walks through the scriptures we learn about God’s reign (Kingdom), desires and intentions for our lives.
  3. It’s simple and clear, but there is a massive amount of content.  So, whether you use it for mentorship or as a small group resource, this can be a fantastic resource for teaching in larger contexts as well.  So those of you who do a large group gathering as well as small groups, you will be extra thankful!
  4. It’s written by people who work closely with college age people.  You will quickly notice how practical all this is for the issues college age people face on a daily basis.

If you’d like to take a closer look at this, you can get details as well as a free sample here.

Okay, so here is how the giveaway will work.  In the comment box below, tell me your craziest or favorite college ministry story this summer.  Winner will be announced on Wednesday.  It’s that simple.

Okay, go…..



weight_loos_graph

Thought it would be a good idea to give everyone a quick update on YouthPastorDiet.com competition so far. So far is has been so fun! Here it is by the numbers:

Off to an incredible start – 72 days to go!

JG

I did a LIVE Curriculum giveaway (a $500 value) back in August and then left on vacation – and never picked a winner! I’m so sorry – I had such a great time away and then came back and didn’t give it another thought. This week I mentioned it to the guys at Simply Youth Ministry and they decided to give 2 more LIVE editions away to make up for me being an idiot! So congrats to ALL 3 winners:

Congrats! Thanks to everyone who entered!

JG



Simply Youth Ministry is doing a ton of LIVE curriculum for youth ministry small groups starting back up these days – we’ve used it for the last couple of years and have loved it. This week they are giving me a chance to give one whole LIVE curriculum away (which is a $500 value, for those of you playing along at home). All you have to do is leave a comment on this post on “why you need LIVE the most” and I’ll pick the winner this Friday. Done!

JG

 

Hilarious idea for a promo code Easter Egg Hunt from the gang over at Simply Youth Ministry. In the spirit of Easter, they have scattered a handful of promo codes around the site TODAY ONLY, ranging in value from $5 to $100. They may only be used a limited number of times so you better get to looking! Fun.

JG