When I tell people I teach Sunday School for teenagers, they say “Oh, wow. Teenagers? You’re very brave.”
But I find both teens and tweens to be uniquely awesome. They’re curious, incisive, observant, challenging, and yes, skeptical.
Little kids may be cute and accepting, but they don’t really wrestle the issues like teens do. Adults might be mature and experienced, but often are tired of being foundationally challenged. But, teens– they really care! They have passion! They are hot or cold toward the gospel, sometimes both at once, but never lukewarm! And if they ever have any of that typical ‘bad attitude’ I know it’s just because they are trying to figure things out for themselves, to personally own their beliefs and choices. Which is exactly what I want for them too. And that is why I work to present this essential information about the traditional Orthodox Christian Faith to them.
My approach is to be direct, honest, positive, and not pull any punches. I never give a lecture, but often play games or incorporate interactive demonstrations (what they call ‘edumacational tools.’) We talk about all the controversial and ‘awkward’ issues that other adults seem to avoid, and my goal is always that they have an opportunity to see how beautiful God’s path for us really is. After all, there’s got to be a reason people chose to set aside the worldly ‘fun’ life and pick up a cross to follow Christ instead, right?
Here are the details:
I have a small group, 4-6 teens on a good day. Many of them haven’t made a personal commitment to Christ yet. Many even don’t understand the basic teachings of mere Christianity, despite having grown up in the church, and have absorbed our secular culture’s attitude toward the faith. I often need to remember that their skepticism is based on a desire to know the Truth, and that is, at its base, a pure desire for Christ.
Three Sundays per month we do a study of Holy Scripture, using the So What? study guide (modified to reflect Orthodox teachings as necessary). One Sunday per month we have a Topic discussion which they have chosen from a menu. The menu includes topics such as:
This blog is a record of activities and lessons I do with them, and my struggles to combat false faith and show them God’s love. Please join me, share ideas, and comment!