Worship with Us This Sunday - 10:15 a.m.
I sat down with a student in our youth group the other day to help him with some middle school math. I’m not a mathematician by any means, but during my middle school and high school days I did enjoy math, and I have been able to retain most of what I learned then. The student was having a hard time solving the problems and easily the frustration was causing a negative attitude toward the process, assignment, and the subject in general.
As I watched him to see where the struggle was coming from, I realized that he had trouble going through all of the steps to solve the problems. These new equations he was learning to work involved taking a few more steps than what he had been doing before in working simpler equations. I began to show him that he needed to write out each step as he went along because each step was an important part of getting to the solution. This, however, meant more writing and more time for each problem. Not much of an incentive for a teenager who already doesn’t like math.
When it comes to teaching young people from babies to teenagers, both parties often seek desired outcomes and answers within life. As parents, you want your children to grasp certain aspects and truths about life and faith, but often it is easier to see the end result or desire and ignore the critical steps needed to guide toward them.
Chap Clark writes in Hurt about the need that young people have for adults to guide them along the journey of life and faith. A parent who wants to see their child grasp a faith that sticks needs to walk along the journey of following Jesus with them. Clark and Powell put it this way in Sticky Faith:
“As parents, then, instead of concentrating on—and sometimes fretting about—whether and how our kids are living ‘righteous’ lives, we have the opportunity to help them discover, access, and strengthen their trust and faith in Jesus Christ.”
What does this practically look like? Clark and Powell give a few different ways to guide young people in their understanding of a complete gospel. One way is refocusing the gospel as a relational journey of trusting God rather than a contractional list of guidelines to obey. In this way, the gospel becomes a story to enter that develops over time. The opportunity for conversation then becomes a part of the journey.
Like solving math equations, I could have just told the student each step he needed to take and then given the solution. But, rather, I allowed him to talk and workout the problem step by step while I was there to offer guidance when needed. Thus, he was learning the process rather than me giving him a list of answers.
The way of Jesus was never something that was to be journeyed alone or a list of answers to obtain. Why would we expect our young people to figure it out that way? For the gospel to be something that sticks there must be attention paid to time taken in conversation with them as we guide young people in the way of Jesus.