Monday, February 20, 2006

Our Midweek Bible Study

It is my opinion that the midweek Bible Study is the benchmark for determining how healthy a youth ministry is going. You see, it is the most voluntary meeting that many churches have. Sunday mornings are almost entirely compulsary and Sunday evenings, while less so are still on Sunday and in most family's minds that is a good enough reason for a kid to be walking through the Church doors. But a midweek Bible Study is almost entirely voluntary even in the Bible Belt. So if things are going well on Wed. night for our youth ministry I am encouraged. Now, this is not merely because of numbers...though numbers play a part. I will explain later after I discuss what it is we actually do and how we do it.

How we organize it

On Wed. nights we have basically two meetings...
Jr. High Bible Study At 6 pm (actually they start showing up earlier) the Jr. High Bible Study starts...officially. However, as I said they can show up as early as 5:15 and we actually do not start Bible Study till 5:20 or so. Untill then we play pool, shoot hoops, throw frisbees, eat snacks and just plain hangout. This time is very valauble. For one, they love to be together and hangout. There is almost always palpable energy in the room with this group...and it is not always just ADHD. They genuinely love being there. And they are a exciting group to lead. Their eagerness is infectious. I keep it real simple in format. I read the passage or have them read it and then I ask them questions about the passage and the implications of the passage for them as a 6th - 8th grader. The format is simple but the discussions are heavy.

Dinner Break At 7 pm we break for dinner which is provided by moms and other ladies throughout the church. We never have a problem getting women in our church to bring food for the youth ministry. Sometimes they cook and sometimes they bring Dominoes or Taco Bell or KFC, regardless it is an integral part of our fellowship together. For the most part the kids realize they are getting a free meal and are very appreciative of it. This is when the Senior High start showing up...the older they are the more fashionably late they are.

Sr. High Bible Study I try to start as close to 7:30 as I can but it can be hard after dinner to gather everyone together. I usually do some announcements and then we begin Bible Study. I do Bible Study two different ways with the Sr. High. Regardless of how I organize the study I always give them a handout with the passage we are discussing printed on it along with 4 or 5 questions that they will be answering. Depending on the size of the group I will, if the group is large enough, break then into groups of four or five students to answer the questions as a group. After about fifteen minutes of them going through the questions as a group, they gather as a large group and we go though each group's answers. I have never found a better way to do Bible Study (thanks due to Cliff knight, my college minister at Lakeview Baptist in Auburn for this setup). If the group is small then I will usually not break into small groups and we will only discuss the passage as a large group. Sometimes I let them make this discussion...sometimes they want to do small groups, sometimes not.

What we are studying

Both groups are going through Romans. We have working our way through Romans since January 2005. We just started Romans 10 last week. So at this point we have have had 48 lessons in Romans and amazingly no complaints yet! this could be because I encourage them to see this as an opportunity to really drive a deep shaft into what many consider the most important book in the Bible. Romans is pure meat. No word should be wasted. No paragraph skipped and no truth skimmed. Because of our patience in this study, almost every student that comes knows what Justification is and waht Sanctification is. They have thought long and hard on Propitiation, Predestination and Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. Never once is our discussion "light-hearted". It is always heavy with the weight of the glory of God. They understand the need to look for how God is glorifying himself in his deeds. And they are asking and answering how it is that we are to glorify God in what we study. Do they get it all? Of course not. But they are learning a great deal.

One thing I have added in the past few months is a story about what Bible Study is like for Christians in countries unlike our own. I use and to tell them stories of the suffering saints who risk more than missing American Idol to go study the Bible. I do not talk to them about it all. I let them draw their own conclusions. All I do is tell them or read them the story and then we pray for them and start Bible Study. It is impossible to have light and breezy discussions after hearing about Christians being tortured for meeting in unoffical churches.

The Health of WYM
When I got here in November 2004 there was virtually no youth ministry according to the students. Volunteers were working hard at it but were having a difficult time with it. There was no question that nearly none of them had any grasp of anything beyond, "Jesus died for my sins." Doctrine was a foreign word itself. So the numbers were bad and the growth in grace was worse. Now in the beginning of 2006 we dramatic increases in both areas. No one thought we would have over 20 students every Wed. night for deep doctrinal Bible Study. We do no music (I can't find a person to do it every week) and we play no games. I have never swallowed a goldfish and we will never play chubby bunny. Every kid shows up expecting meaty Bible Study. It is just a given. And we met every Wed. night unless I am on vacation or on a church retreat. We cancel for next to nothing. And if I had a fulltime assistant we might never cancel. So all in all we are experiencing by the grace of God alone, a season of health.


Nobanno said...

As a result of their sin, their children and all of us inherited a sinful nature. In other words, our offspring are not perfect in nature -- we don't have to teach children to be selfish. They know it naturally. That which is sinful cannot produce that which is not sinful.
liberal catholics

Nobanno said...

I am a christian. The religion is loving and believing in God and his son Jesus. You ask Jesus in to your heart and he will live there for eternity. When you die, and if you have Jesus in your heart, You will go to heaven. go for it