As part of Grindstone’s “Understanding the Spiritual Journey” series, I’ve decided to post our sermon notes on my blog so that people can review the decades of interest to them.
Here are the notes from yesterday’s message which I co-taught with Derek Hisson.
1. A snapshot of life in the teens
A time of ENORMOUS transitions.
Teens more than just ‘high school’ (jr. high to 3rd year university).
-“a living hell”
-Social and academic pressures
-Lack of support systems
-Others trying to strike you down so they can rise up
-Time of searching/questioning/rebellion
-Spiritual interest is often high during teen years
-Individuation from family of origin
-“A foot in two worlds” (adult and child)
-Mixed messages: “Don’t do drugs, but try new things”
-Fluctuations (on top of the world vs. bottom of the it)
2. What are the major spiritual challenges?
What is happening? (Big Picture: Identity Formation). Teens are looking for answers to the major worldview questions:
- Who am I?
- Where am I?
- What’s the problem?
- What’s the solution?
What is happening? (Ground Level)
- Grindstone Guys Top 3 issues you deal with Porn, Drugs, Friends
- Grindstone Girls Top 3 issues you deal with Body Image, Self-esteem/worth, Sexual pressures
- Teens are challenging their beliefs, trying to figure out what they believe and why, instead of passively accepting what they’ve been taught. They’re looking for places that allow them to question and offer a patient, safe space to work through their struggles.
3. The Bible and Teens
Scripture addresses the questions teens are asking!
- Who am I?
- What really matters in life?
- How do I get the most out of life?
- Am I important?
- Am I loved?
- Does my life have a larger purpose?
When teens ignore the Scriptures, they’re ignoring the most powerful resource for addressing those questions! No other resource tackles those questions head-on in such an affirming and powerful way for teenagers.
Jesus’ disciples were teenagers, which is so important to highlight because it shows us that Jesus was very eager to invite and involve teens to front-line kingdom work–then and today!
1 Timothy 4:12 : “12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” The passage is saying is that as teens it is completely reasonable to want to be an important and active part of the church, so long as you are setting a Godly example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. Teens are being called to act in ways that are Godly, not just to be examples and not let people put them down.
4. Our Advice to Teens: Enter the Jesus Dojo
A dojo is literally “a place where one learns the way,” usually of some kind of martial art. In this case, this dojo teaches the way of Jesus. And, similar to a martial arts dojo, this community teaches not just by lecturing, etc. but by actually practicing together the way of Jesus.
We enter the dojo through new experiences and by moving from ideas to action.
A Dojo is where you train, not simply try.
40 A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40)
7 train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16)
25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. (1 Corinthians 9:25)
“Spiritual training” is a core aspect of true discipleship.
NOTE: This is not a matter of being “good enough” or earning favor with God. There is nothing that we can do that will cause God to love us more than He already does. Training is not a matter of earning extra credit with God. It is about discipleship to Jesus and becoming more like Him. We are not trying to earn God’s salvation or earn God’s love, we’re training because now that we are living for Jesus and his kingdom agenda, we need to reshape our lives accordingly.
How to train: Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength
Every teen in this church should have a weekly HSMS traning plan. It should address the four dimensions Jesus included as part of the great commandment.
Heart: relationships, compassion, joy, love, forgiveness. What is one thing I can do this week that will help me grow in this area?
Soul: prayer, self-awareness, spiritual disciplines. What is one thing I can do this week that will help me grow in this area?
Mind: Biblical knowledge, Christian worldview. What is one thing I can do this week that will help me grow in this area?
Strength: sacrifice, serving, giving, other-centredness, delayed gratification. What is one thing I can do this week that will help me grow in this area?
Do you have a HSMS training program? If not, why not? Spiritual growth and vibrancy never “just happens” anymore than becoming a fit and competition-ready runner “just happens.”
- 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)
5. How can our church support teens in their spiritual journey?
Heart: Encourage teens and take time to listen.
Soul: Pray for the teens in your life and in our church.
Mind: help create environments where they can work through their questions and doubts, while being guided deeper into God’s Word.
Strength: Look for ways to tangibly bless teens you know.