Don’t Forget the Basics
This is my first year coaching High School soccer.
During our first practice, we started off with one of the most basic skills in all of soccer: dribbling the soccer ball. During an 80 minute High School soccer game, dribbling happens during a large portion of that time as it is a way to move the ball across the field. In our practice, the team was told by the other coach to dribble the soccer ball around the field. However, as the rest of the team started to practice this skill, one of the players on our team came up to me and said: “I don’t know how to do that.” This shocked me. I graciously coached her and helped her learn one of the most fundamental soccer skills.
As I think of this simple situation, it reminds me about how in youth ministry we must never forget to teach or overlook the basics as we lead our students.
With that being said, here are a few encouraging thoughts to lead your teaching in your ministry, which may be especially helpful to remember during the summer when we might have students around our ministry who usually do not attend.
1) Do not assume that every student understands what you mean when you tell them to open their Bible and turn to a specific verse.
Telling a kid who is unfamiliar with the Bible, Church, and the idea of God to open up a Bible and to turn to a passage such as Matthew 5:17 could be compared to telling someone to fix a flat tire on a car when the person may not even know how to use the correct tool. I am not suggesting we stop describing where passages of Scripture are by listing their book, chapter, and verse. However, I am suggesting that we are clear in our explanation so that those students who are unaware of the Bible’s text structure do not feel isolated for unneeded reasons. In filling this need, the student will be able to learn the basics as they grow both now and in the future.
2) Be clear in explaining the meaning of “Church Words.”
These are words that we use in a church context but usually do not use in the rest of the world, such as Grace, Mercy, Propitiation, Sanctification, and Justification. Words like these are important words to teach students as they directly impact the student’s understanding of Biblical doctrines and themes. Similarly to what I mentioned in point one, we must continue using these words so that students are constantly exposed to word meanings. In teaching word meaning and taking the time to define unknown words as we teach, students who are not familiar with the church will not feel like they are learning a new language at our youth group.
3) Remember that just because someone grew up in church does not mean that they are saved.
Going to church does not save anyone. Jesus is the only one who saves. Teaching theology to students is important and needed. At the same time, we must ask the question “Is it possible that some of the kids that we are trying to teach deep knowledge about God do not even have a relationship with God yet because they have not come to a point where they have been saved by Christ?” We must make sure we are frequently explaining the Gospel in our teaching and when appropriate giving opportunities for them to respond to that message.
In our ministries, we probably have students, like that kid on my soccer team, who hear us telling them about certain things that most students find basic, but others have no idea what we are talking about. As we continue to teach and lead in our youth ministries, think about these concepts. Challenge and ask yourself, “What would happen if we would be intentional in our language to make sure that those students who do not know the basics of Christianity can learn, grow, and thrive in our youth group environments?” I think we all know the answer!
Kyle Hoffsmith is the Pastor of High School Ministries at Old North Church in Canfield, Ohio. He is passionate about teaching students that true life is found in Jesus, breaking down generational barriers within the family of God, and equipping students to reach their schools with the Good News of Jesus. You can follow him on twitter @Kyle_Hoffsmith.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.