Today I began the teaching at church with the question ‘If I were a Muslim evangelist and my mission was to convert you to Islam what would I need to do to get some traction?’
My intention was simply to show that it is a huge ask to shift someone from one deeply entrenched world view to another completely different one. The answers were interesting, but what was of more interest to me than the answers themselves was who was giving them.
Of the 6 or 7 responses we had, 3 came from our 12-13 year olds, the crew just out of Sunday School and with no option but to sit in church and listen to us. (I think that’s a good thing by the way.) What I liked was firstly that they felt confident enough to engage and like they had permission, but also that they offered some excellent observations. They were thinking.
I have been very aware over the last 6 weeks that my 13 year old daughter Ellie has been in for the teaching and she has made a few comments about what I have been teaching, comments that show she is engaging with at least some of what I am saying.
What today has prompted me to consider is how to intentionally engage with these guys more – how to communicate in such a way that adults learn, but the younger ones follow and are able to learn also. I think it was Billy Graham who said he preached his messages to an imaginary 12 year old as if they could comprehend then anyone could. So I am thinking that in the next few months when preparing teaching I will be running it thru the grid of ‘how does this connect with a 13 year old?’
As a kid who sat thru church at that age it didn’t kill me, but I remember regularly counting the number of boards in the roof at Maylands Baptist. I was often bored to tears but with no way of escape. Sunday morning teaching is typically pitched at adults – often thinking adults – but what if it was pitched at ‘thinking kids’? I wonder if we wouldn’t pick up all the adults as well?
Its just an observation, but its one that has sparked my thinking as to how we engage the young ones rather than just expecting them to sit quietly until the boring bit is over. What today showed me is that they are willing – if we are willing…