“Complaining about the state of a generation will not change it; investing in it will.” -Eric Mason in Manhood Restored (178)
The adolescent years are crucial in shaping young men and women into followers of Jesus. Even into the teenage years, parents still retain the primary responsibility for teaching their children the gospel and modeling the Christian life. But as children head toward adulthood, the church’s role takes on increasing importance.
As parents and members of our church work together to make teenagers into mature disciples of Jesus, we strive to do so through these means:
1. Parental Teaching: In the context of their family’s daily life, parents are to “raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1, Psalm 78:5-8, Deuteronomy 6:4-9). There is no cookie-cutter method of doing this, but we encourage parents to do things like: read Scripture together, pray with their family, capitalize on teachable moments, memorize passages, use tools like catechisms, and set an example of godly living.
2. Sunday Morning Worship: Each week, our entire church gathers on Sunday mornings (at 9:00 and at 10:30) to meet with God, sing His praises, and be instructed from His Word (Hebrews 10:23-25, Colossians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 14:26). We view this as a vital part of the church teaching teenagers to be disciples of Jesus; so we encourage their active attendance and participation in these gatherings.
3. Sunday Morning Classes: Each week on Sunday mornings, during the 9:00 service, we also have classes for middle and high schoolers. (Note: if students’ families participate in the 9:00 worship service, we encourage teenagers to go with them rather than attending these classes.) The purpose of these classes is for our middle and high schoolers to be taught “the entire counsel of God” in recurring four-year spans, and for them to learn to read the Bible with Jesus always in view (Acts 20:27, Luke 24:27). We use The Gospel Project curriculum and have found it to be exceptionally well-suited to accomplish these goals.
4. Monthly Teaching Times: During the school year, every first Wednesday of the month, we have a Worship Night at 6:30 p.m., which is geared toward teenagers. The purpose of these nights is for middle and high schoolers to receive teaching from church leaders that is pointed particularly to them, addressing the unique questions, struggles, and experiences they are dealing with at their stage of life (Titus 2:1-6).
5. Weekly REgroups: During the school year, on the other Wednesday evenings of the month, we break into REgroups, which are based on gender and age. These groups are designed for students for middle and high schoolers to receive consistent accountability, encouragement, challenge, and example-setting from a more mature follower of Jesus—and from their peers (Ephesians 4:11-16). These groups’ conversations revolve around three categories of being a disciple of Christ: reading God’s Word, obeying God’s commands, and participating in God’s mission.
6. Events: Throughout the year, we have a few other events (cookouts, retreats, summer camps, etc.) for middle and high schoolers to be engaged in various other means of discipleship, as deemed necessary or appropriate. Those are always publicized in advance. So keep your eyes peeled (in the bulletin, here on the website, on Facebook, etc.)
We would love to have middle or high schoolers join us for any—or all—of these!
Our teachers, group leaders, and other volunteers are all mature believers who have gone through screening, interviews, and background checks–and who regularly are meeting together for training and encouragement in their particular realm of service.
Jake Osborn, Student Ministries Director