“I know Jesus rose from the dead and all but when did He die for real?” ~ One of My Few
I know what you’re thinking: Wait, I lead middle schoolers. Did I accidentally click the elementary school blog icon? No. You’re in the right place. This was a question from one of my high schoolers who had been in my group for four consecutive years. That’s right. I was in the middle of our weekly small group in my home with about half a dozen high school seniors when this question came up. And the worst part is: the rest of my circle of girls nodded in agreement, also wanting to know when Jesus died “for real”.
I had completely failed them.
They knew Eve ate the fruit. They knew Noah built the ark. They knew Moses led the exodus and Peter walked on water.
But no matter how many choruses of “life is worth the living just because He lives” had been sung over the past four years, I had failed to bring home the main point, the cornerstone of all Christianity: Jesus is, and always will be, ALIVE!
The question triggered us to all bring up Acts 1 on our smartphones and read some great truth followed by an eye-opening discussion.
It also made me realize how easy it was for me, as a leader of high school seniors, to assume we were on the same page. What seems obvious to me is not necessarily obvious to my few. After all, I have a good decade of life experience and comprehension skills under my belt that they have yet to encounter.
Of course I understand the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ… now. But if I were to be honest, did I have the comprehension skills to think through the whole big picture ten years ago? Doubtful.
Preschool and elementary SGLs are masters at breaking things down for their few—at explaining complicated theology on a toddler level. But as our few get older, we begin to take advantage of the fact that they start to look like (and insist they are equal to) adults. We assume because their voice changes they now have the social skills to navigate difficult relationships. Or because they can drive to and from their very own job they have the responsibility required to keep their life organized. Or because they are reading Thoreau, Shakespeare and Keats in school they have the ability to comprehend Thoreau, Shakespeare and Keats.
The truth is, even though our few are navigating the muddy waters on the way to adulthood, we must be just as diligent in breaking down complicated theology. The “aha” moments probably won’t happen in the middle of a worship song or sermon. Things are much more likely to “click” when you—the SGL—take the time to do a little comprehension check.
So before you jump into prayer requests, instead of simply asking “what’d ya think of the talk?”, try asking these questions to encourage deeper discussion and make sure your few don’t miss anything big (like, oh say, the foundation of our faith):
Have you heard this scripture before?
What else do you know about this scripture or Bible story? (context, timeline, characters, etc.)
Why is this scripture important to God’s big story?
Why is this scripture important to our faith?