One of my responsibilities at St David's church is to run the youth group on Friday nights. It's called SPY - Strathfield Presbyterian Youth. I wonder if we could ourselves "SPY Kids" (as in the movie)...?
I've never led youth group before. Thankfully, the former leader, Karen, is sticking around for this month, to give me a hand. If she wasn't there, I really wouldn't know what I'm doing. Well, I still don't really know what I'm doing... it's just less obvious, 'coz she covers for me...
So, seeing as I didn't know where the teens were at, and what they'd want to do, I asked them for ideas: (1) what books or themes in the Bible they'd like to study; (2) if they'd wanna do some other ministry activity - like help a missionary or something; and (3) what fun stuff they want to do. They came up with lots of ideas for fun stuff: bowling, laser zone, paintball(!), lawn bowls(!!)... But I had to coax the ministry and Bible study ideas out of them a bit.
They want to study the book of Revelation(!!!). I'm reasonably familiar with it, so this should be good. But, there are a few things that I'm pondering:
(1) How do you teach teenagers to read Apocalyptic genre? Most preachers & Bible studies just make assertions re the symbolism of numbers colours etc. Should I do that? Or actually give them extracts from other first-century Apocalyptic writings, so they can see for themselves how the symbolism works...?
(2) How slow or fast should I go through the book? Going slowly helps focus on details and analyse interlocking images - very important in Revelation. But it could be really boring and laborious - which is deadly for youth ministry. Going quickly gives a sense of achievement - but the teens may not have time to actually get into the text.
(3) What study techniques should I use? I want the teens to "feel" the "texture" of the text - I want them to let the colours and pictures and numbers impact them. But I don't want to make them feel patronised - another deadly maneuver in youth ministry. Can I get them to draw pictures? Act out a skit? Maybe even dress up as characters…??? (How do you dress up as the beast…?)
(4) How much should I engage with the "isms" – pre-millennialism, post-millennialism, preteritism, historicism, dispensationalism, a-millennialism... They're smart kids - I think they can handle it. But again, I don't want to overwhelm them with info.