I was prompted to write this short blog by a tweet I saw from YouthworkMum (AKA Alice Smith) – if you are on twitter, well worth a follow . . . anyway’s, Alice asked . . .

Recommendations for teaching resources for 16-18 year olds?

Some were suggested, such as : Substance (published by SU) and material from Youth Cartel . . . then, a bit later Mettle was mentioned and YFC Resources . . . all good stuff.  However, there really isn’t much – and, to be frank – there should be LOADS.  Although, when I say LOADS . . . I don’t mean loads of published resources with that specific intention – I mean loads of stuff that is being used, because it is THERE and with a bit of creativity we can take our discipleship of 16-18 year olds forwards . . .

So, here are five ideas for disicpling 16-18s.

1.  Read a book together.  This can work either one to one in a mentoring capacity or with a youth group.  Two great books to kick this off :: “Rise” by Jason and Rachel Gardner / “The Vision and the Vow” by Pete Greig.

Encourage the young people to read a chapter, then come together and discuss it – the chapter headings / themes can form the basis of your structure and programme . . . both books are about getting serious about our faith and our life in God – with practical application stuff helping young people live out what they believe.  Doing a book together is NOT about you telling them what the book is teaching – but, through a shared journey, some of those who might not enjoy reading or do it much . . . might just stick with it if the whole youth group is doing it, or – you are doing it with them.

2.  Take a Thematic Sweep Through Scripture.  This requires a bit of effort, but is WELL worth it.  The challenge with some published resources is because there is so much ground to cover exploring something like “Grace” can be reduced to a 90 minute session.  Next week is something else . . . seriously, don’t do that!  Take a TERM to explore grace, have a stab at gathering great swathes of scripture (Old and New Testament) that speak of God’s grace . . . His direct involvement – e.g. seeing the suffering of His people and coming down to rescue them (Moses, Egypt etc) to the way He works through people who have been humbled and equipped and led by God to a place where they can be agents of that grace (Joseph with his brothers / Paul – from persecutor of Christians to Gospel Champion!) . . . Grace is not an abstract doctrine, it is rooted in the lives of God’s people and made manifest through encounter and relationship with Him.

Our young people need to KNOW God’s grace, not as a concept or something to believe (Yes, I know God is gracious) but, something they experience (God, you are so gracious to ME!!)

In looking at Bible passages I find the Swedish Method fantastic – I cam across it in the excellent book by Laurie Green, “Let’s Do Theology” and have subsequently adapted it a bit for use in youth groups – find it here.

3.  Do Romans.  Of Paul’s letters, this one stands out for me.  It isn’t a corrective letter looking at specific things a Church is messing up . . . we can get ourselves a skewed theology if we hang out in certain books of the Bible and neglect others . . . however, what is different about Romans is that it is a general book, it unpacks from the start over the first eight chapters what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.  IF I was thinking “I have just 16 weeks to teach young people what it means to be a Christian and How to live the Christian life”, this is where I would go.

8 Chapters of doctrine (This is what we believe and why we believe it)

8 Chapters of applications (OK, so if we believe those things . . . what difference should that make to how we live?)

Yes it will take some work, yes, you might need to adapt some stuff . . . AGES ago, CPAS did a Book for youth groups on ROMANS . . . it was called, “Shameless – Eight Complete sessions on Romans”, it no longer exists!  I have a copy, but you can’t find it anywhere . . . the nearest to it is a series of studies in Philippians, again produced by CPAS and – whisper it (no, actually don’t whisper it – SHOUT IT – you can download that one for FREE here – “Earthed in Heaven” (by the by here is a question, why is it that “Teaching” material seems to have moved away from taking a book of the Bible and teaching it ?!)

Anyway, get your commentaries out, buy a simple “everyday” one – see Tom Wright’s “Romans for Everyone” and get adapting so it will work with your youth group (oh, and you won’t need to adapt it very much . . . the same young people who are tackling Shakespeare and “difficult” contemporary fiction for A Levels . . . are probably in your youth group and don’t need a dumbed down study aid – they can handle A LOT, so when adapting it might simply be about slightly different illustrations, not the main content . . . .

4.  Pass it On.  Get a rota set up with a load of mature Christians from your church (and other churches?) ask them this question, “If you could pass on one thing to the next generation that would encourage them in their life of faith – what would it be?”

It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that, maybe suss out what they might say in advance to avoid drastic repetition – but, it will be an illuminating exercise whatever (imagine if they all had the same kind of thing to share . . . and, up until this point, it hadn’t featured in your youth programme?)

5.  Lets Get Spiritual.  This could run all year.  In Each session (say 15 or 16 sessions for the whole year, maybe doing one of these once a fortnight) . . .We can talk about our “spiritual” lives, we can even teach about it . . . but, how do we take young people through a year of teaching that helps them discover just HOW many resources we have – in Christ, to live our lives for Him?  This is the most exciting of any of the ideas I have mentioned (at least to me!) : So, three streams to fit in to each evening – Looking at the Fruit, Gifts and Disciplines of the Spirit.  These are not separate things, which I why I am suggesting doing aspects of them all in one evening . . . Fruit – obviously, the key passage in Galatians; Gifts – A whole bunch of places, although I would start at Ephesians Chapter 4 and then move on to the others – simply for context, the gifts are not “ours” in a personal way, but given to “us” in a collective way for the building up of the people of God . . . then, for the Disciplines I would go to Dallas Willard and adapt his excellent book, “Spirit of the Disciplines” (or rather, take the key topics he mentions and ask the young people what they think that could look like in their lives . .  ) . . . I might have, as a prompt for ideas and illustrations, Martin Saunders book, “The Beautiful Disciplines” on hand.

Thats it.  Enjoy.