I put a lot of effort into my teaching time with students. I also understand that it’s the responsibility of parents to be the main disciple-maker for their own children. With that being said, it’s also the job of student ministries to come behind parents and teach students the Scriptures. This is why I spend many hours planning, preparing, and presenting clear, Gospel-centered, theologically accurate messages. I even have a pastor friend that I send “theology check” text messages to. Typically these are one sentence statements (usually my bottom line in a message) that I make sure are not off base.
Sadly, when it comes to theology, for some reason, too many student ministry leaders tend to get nervous. They will look at the student pastor and say, “Isn’t that your job?” While that statement is true it’s also not the whole truth. Pastors are not the only people on the planet that can teach students. That is why we MUST embrace teaching theology to students, not neglect it. When thinking through this four ideas come to mind…
1. Students CAN handle theology. There is a huge myth behind the statement… “Students can’t handle theological concepts” or the statement “That’s the job of the senior pastor.” These two statements drive me crazy on two levels. First, it makes me feel like I’m “less of a pastor” than a senior pastor and two, it makes it sounds like teenagers are not intelligent. Students can handle theology and its the job of parents and student ministries to teach it to them. How we accomplish this can be done in many ways. Maybe its through a mid-week teaching series, in a small group bible study environment, or through a basic discipleship relationship between adult volunteers and students. No matter how we do, we need to be doing it.
2. It gives students a correct understanding of the Savior. By teaching students theology it gives them a much deeper, more biblically accurate, understanding of God. Through theology (meaning, “the study of God”) we get more acquainted with the character, attributes, and nature of God. I believe students have a difficult time telling their family and friends about God because they themselves don’t have a clear understanding of who God actually is. This is heart-breaking.
3. Shallow teaching of the Scriptures will only help in producing shallow students. Following along with the theme of students having a deeper understanding of God, we must understand that this starts and ends with the Scriptures. We must faithfully teach students the Scriptures and out of that students naturally will grow in their understanding of God. When all we are giving students is fluff and “an itch to hear something new” (2 Timothy 4:3) then we are missing a huge opportunity and I believe neglecting our calling. Students need sound doctrine and I pray their understanding of God is deepened through our student ministries.
4. Students desire to know more about faith, doctrine, and worldviews. Numerous times in six years of being a full-time student pastor, I have heard this phrase, “I desire to go deeper” or “I want to know more.” This is exciting and we must embrace it! These statements are telling us students desire to grow in their faith and knowledge of God. This is what we must wrestle with: are we as student ministry leaders giving students our best? Are we faithfully studying for our small group times? Are we ourselves as adults growing in our knowledge of God? Students want to experience Jesus. By teaching students theological concepts this will only help them truly experience Christ.
A great tool for teaching students theology is The Gospel Project for Students. This is a curriculum produced by LifeWay Christian Resources and is designed to “give teens the whole story of Scripture- the story of redemption through Jesus.” I highly recommend you check it out and use it in your student ministries.