Teaching the Bible is Dangerous

Youth Specialties
March 10th, 2010

Seek JusticeIn 2002, I heard International Justice Mission president Gary Haugen speak at the National Youth Workers Convention in Sacramento. I remember how I felt when Gary spoke about using his skills to speak for and protect the voiceless and powerless. That was literally a foreign concept to me. I was perplexed by Gary's challenge. I was even a little angry about it— so I went home and committed to searching and studying what Scripture really said about standing up for others. 

About a year later I bought The Justice Mission curriculum and taught it to my youth group in the Fall of 2003. I will never forget their stunned silence as the first video played. It was awesome! As the first couple of weeks got rolling, my students were engaged as they watched the videos and read the words of Jesus. Speak up for the poor. Join in God's mission. Advocate for those of low social status. This was epic Sunday School.

In the third week of the curriculum I got pulled aside by a parent. “Pastor Adam, I don't think we should be teaching these kids this curriculum. It's dangerous. I am afraid that if you teach my kid this kind of stuff she may actually believe God is calling her to do that.” 

I was floored. 
Yes, in fact I hoped that some of my students would lay aside desires to spend their lives doing something safe for something dangerous. Actually obeying Scripture is very dangerous. I had hoped that God would wreck some of their soft lives. Like many meetings like that I remember asking the parent to join me in praying about what we were teaching. He did and I did. And it never came up again.
The irony of that conversation is that the father was right. His daughter, now about 21 years old, will graduate from college this year. She is pursuing a career working for a ministry that sticks up for those who have been abused, oppressed, and made voiceless. She's chosen to give up pursuing something less costly for something dangerous. And I believe Jesus is in love with her choice. 
In the next few years I'm ready for the roles to reverse. The one time student will hopefully be challenging her old youth pastor. “So, you believe the words of Christ are true? Prove it. I'm proving it with my life. How about you?” 
I have no idea where this story is headed– but I count myself fortunate to see it from this vantage point.
I've learned a couple of lessons as a result of this story, maybe they are useful to you as you lead your ministry?
  1. You need to teach the whole of Scripture. It might be more entertaining and certainly easier to teach the Bible topically, but often times when you do that you miss the depth of what Scripture is really telling us to do.
  2. You need to remind parents often that God is the potter and their children are the clay. They are not the potter. Adolescence is a high stress time for a parent and sometimes they need to remember that God's got a plan way better than theirs.
Youth Specialties

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