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A Look Inside: Open My Eyes, Part 2

Open My Eyes

Open My Eyes, our newly released study for youth teaches youth the lifelong skill of studying the Bible. The curriculum focuses on four keys themes, which we are looking at this week:

  1. The need to study the Bible
  2. Understanding the genres of Biblical literature
  3. Learning inductive Bible study skills
  4. Responding to God in faith from the heart

The main section of lessons in Open My Eyes varies between discovering the genres of Biblical literature and learning practical inductive Bible study skills. This gives students extra time to learn new skills before introducing the next one.

Open My Eyes VisualsIf you do not consider the literary context the verses in the Bible are presented in, you may be very confused. There is a great difference between historical narratives and parables, letters and poetry. To correctly interpret a Bible passage, students need to learn to understand the author’s intended meaning through exploring the context. Christians can be deceived in their understanding of the Word if they do not carefully study the Bible.

Open My Eyes gives students an overview of nine genres of Biblical literature to equip them in understanding the context.

Genres of Biblical Literature (more…)

A Look Inside: Open My Eyes, Part 1

Open My Eyes Study for Youth

In case you missed the news, we released Open My Eyes last week, our first curriculum for senior high students. The 40-week study teaches youth how to study the Bible. This week, we are going to give you an inside look at the 4 themes the lessons are structured around:

  1. The need to study the Bible
  2. Understanding the genres of Biblical literature
  3. Learning inductive Bible study skills
  4. Responding to God in faith from the heart

Before being taught how to study the Bible, the first five lessons lead students to discover the steadfastness of the Bible and why it is critical to study the Bible. The starting point of this curriculum is the truth of the authority of the Bible. Because the Sovereign God of the Universe is the Author behind the authors of the Bible, the Bible is true in all its parts and completely reliable. Man’s understanding of Scripture can be in error, but this divine book, inspired by the Holy Spirit is never in error. Students are given the sober warning that God’s authoritative Word cannot be changed, questioned or disobeyed without grave consequences.

Open My Eyes VisualAlthough it may be daunting to attempt to study a divine book with that warning, the Bible is a clear book that the Holy Spirit uses to enable ordinary people to know God. The Bible was written to all peoples of all generations by God, who wants to be known and understood by ordinary people. Students, who belong to God, love, understand and see the clarity in His Word.

Open My Eyes VisualNot only are God’s children able to understand the Bible, it is imperative for them to study it. Youth may often raise questions, “Is there more than one way to God?” and “Isn’t it enough to be sincere in whatever faith you choose?” But, they will learn that the Bible is necessary for salvation, maintaining spiritual life and knowing God’s Will. It is the sufficient source of truth, containing all we need for salvation and faith, and must not be added to.

Both studying the Bible through the help of the Holy Spirit and meditating on memorized verses are crucial to understanding the truths of the Bible and growing in faith. A haphazard approach to reading the Bible often results in overlooking large portions of the Bible and missing its overall structure. But, a plan or system for Bible reading and study can help one to avoid these pitfalls. Understanding the Bible is the result of a combination of a redeemed heart, diligent study and dependency on the Holy Spirit. Only then will students be able to truly discern the author’s intended meaning of a passage and glean the spiritual truths that encourage us to grow.

Open My Eyes Visual

The final lesson before digging into Bible study methods, gives youth an overview of God’s redemptive plan. They will see how the Old Testament informs the New Testament and how the New Testament interprets the Old Testament. The Bible is one continuous, interconnected story with a central message as God’s plan and purposes progressively unfold. Ultimately, the whole Bible is about Jesus. It was written that we might believe that Jesus is the Son of God and receive life in His name.

Check back tomorrow, to see how students will gain an understanding of the genres of Biblical literature. To learn more about Open My Eyes, view the Curriculum Sample or place an order for your own copy of the study.

 

New Senior High Youth Curriculum Released: Open My Eyes

Open My Eyes

 

The Word of God is profoundly simple…and amazingly complex. Understandable to children…yet confounding to scholars. Only through the work of the Holy Spirit can our eyes be opened that we may “behold wondrous things” out of God’s law (Psalm 119:10).

Our brand new curriculum, Open My Eyes, teaches 9th-12th grade students how to study the Bible. Students will learn careful observation tools and sound interpretative principles as it provides pointed application suggestions so the Word of God might be understood as the biblical authors intended, and practiced in everyday life.

Open My Eyes begins with lessons on the authority, clarity, necessity and sufficiency of the Bible and the need to study the Bible and understand God’s plan of redemption. Then, youth will gain an understanding of the different genres of biblical literature (poetry, parables, gospels, etc.) and the inductive Bible study process as they practice reading, observation, interpretation and application skills. The curriculum concludes with five lessons aimed at the heart of the students, with the challenge not to presume upon the patience of God, but to respond to Him in faith.

Instead of being taught the same old Bible stories and lessons, I am being taught how to determine the lesson my own.–Sanya, student

You can learn more by viewing the Curriculum Scope & Sequence and the Sample Lessons. The following resources will equip you to teach the youth in your church or home:


Classroom Kit

Classroom KitThe Classroom Kit contains everything your class needs to start this curriculum. The main resource, the Teacher’s Guide, contains 40 lessons which alternate between a large group teaching time and small group discovery and discussion. Each lesson features a focus statement that summarizes the main ideas of the lesson and serves as anchors for understanding how to study the Bible. Students are encouraged to follow through on a personal application step each week.

Open My Eyes is not intended to be an exhaustive study of inductive methods, but rather an introduction to them, with the prayer that it will start youth on a lifetime journey of Bible study. These skills can be practiced in any inductive Bible study.


Student In-Class Notebook

Student At-Home JournalThe notebook provides students with a format for recording important points taught in the lesson as well as an opportunity to practice inductive Bible study skills as they mark up passages, make observations of the text and interpret the meaning. Youth will fill out charts, map passages and make an outline to discern the flow of the author’s thoughts. This record of their interactions with the Word will not only serve as a reminder of truths and Bible study skill taught, but will also be a journal of insights imparted by the Holy Spirit.


Student At-Home Journal

Student At-Home JournalWhy do students need to study at home? Besides reinforcing important truths and skills learned in class, the Student At-Home Journal provides an opportunity for the student to practice inductive Bible study skills. Without this practice, the student will be hampered in his use of sound observation, interpretation and application skills. Hearing must become doing in order for these skills to take root.

More importantly, the journal provides the student with the opportunity and encouragement to personally interact with the Word of God and to ponder His relationship to God. It becomes a means for the Holy Spirit to work in the heart of the student as he thoughtfully responds to questions, meditates on the Word, and considers what God is asking of him.

The Inductive Bible Study Handbook

The Inductive Bible Study HandbookThe Inductive Bible Study Handbook is a reference tool that teaches the 4 main steps of and tips for inductive Bible study. The steps include read, observe, interpret and apply.

Students will use the Handbook in conjunction with both the Student In-Class Notebook and the Student At-Home Journal. The Handbook can also be used as a stand alone resource.

 

Open My Eyes is a curriculum seeking to do just that – open the eyes of our youth to see the truths in God’s Word. Our children are confronted with a culture in which it is acceptable to define their own truth. And, accordingly, are influenced to interpret God’s Word in a way that seems right to them, rather than discerning the God-given meaning of the text. Open My Eyes equips them with tools, a methodology for proper interpretation, to rightly handle the Word of Truth. I am grateful that our church is reinforcing and strengthening skills that we seek to teach in our home.–Pamela, parent

Order a copy of Open My Eyes today and start teaching your youth the important skill of studying the Bible! Order online or by calling 877.400.1414.

 

Preparing Teens for the Great Battle

Having had a son who really went to a physical war, these words by John Piper really struck home:

Knowing you are in a war changes what is cool. If your family is under attack, fretting about your clothes and your hair stops. There are more important things at stake.

Pastor John goes on to use this obvious point to challenge us to have this same kind of perspective when we consider our own lives, but it’s especially a call for teenagers to have this mindset:

…we are at war. The enemy is stronger than the Axis of Germany, Japan, and Italy. Indeed, stronger than all human powers put together. The battle is daily. It is fought in every locality. And its victories and defeats lead to heaven or to hell.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11)

Fight the good fight of the faith. (1 Timothy 6:12)

Wage the good warfare. (1 Timothy 1:18)

The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh. (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:3)

Abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
(
1 Peter 2:11)

What Is Really Going On?

Don’t be part of the blind, teenage masses who do not know what is going on. They think that to know the latest movie, iPhone app, or hit song is to know what is going on. Those things are like cut flowers. Bright today, tossed out tomorrow. They are utterly insignificant compared to events that are shaping the course of eternity.

When the Great General says, “Let no one despise you for your youth” (1 Timothy 4:12), he means: Don’t fit into the stereotype of the aimless, careless, superficial youth. Break the mold. You belong to Christ. Show the world that there is another kind of teenager on the earth.

This teenager is not a leaf blown along with the wind of cultural trends. He is not a jellyfish floating with the current of the times. He is a tree that stands firm in the strongest storms. He is a dolphin who slices the waves against the tide. He is going somewhere.

(From “A Call to Teenagers to be Free, ©2015 Desiring God Foundation, desiringGod.org)

Are you preparing your own children for the great battle? Is your church’s youth ministry helping students put on the whole armor of God, that he or she may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.?

One way to prepare our teens for the battle is by presenting them with the “whole armor of God” and training them how to use the armor in battle. That is why CDG has developed serious, challenging, and Bible-intensive curriculum for this age group. If you haven’t already done so, check out these resources for youth:

What Will Win Your Youth?

ID-100103856It can be an anxious time for many parents—those often turbulent teen years. How can the church help and assist parents during these years? Well, one way is to continue to provide youth with deep and engaging Bible teaching. In her seminar, “Teaching Youth and Engaging Their Hearts,” Sally Michael emphasized the following:

The junior high years are where we start to see great divides—those who truly love the Lord and are maturing in faith; and those who are clearly rejecting what they have been taught, and even those who simply portray apathy (which is a form of rebellion). Some of the students you will be teaching are not saved—so you need to teach reflecting that there are Christians and non-Christians in the class. 

What will reach not just their heads, but their hearts and wills?

There are those who say that we must win them over with interesting stories, silly stunts, and relevant speech. Others say you win teens over by entertaining them, by making church “fun” so they want to come to church.

Greg Harris has stated—“What you win them with is what you will win them to.”

What we want to win them to is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We want to win them to putting their confidence in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of their sins. We want them to respond to the Gospel in faith.

Is it fun that converts the soul? Is it entertaining stories and relating to teens with the latest teen language?

This is what the Bible tells us generates faith:

Romans 10:17—So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

It is our job to impart the words of life—to teach the truth about who God is, who we are, and what Jesus did to solve our sin problem. We must continue to teach whether they show interest or not—I’m not advocating for droning on—we must make our teaching interesting and put energy into it. But I am saying that they must hear the Word—if they do not respond now, they may respond later to the reservoir of truth we have poured into them. The Holy Spirit does not work in a vacuum –He works through the Word.

(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Biblical Gender Identity

RGGD LE Cover

One of the most earth-shaking events in modern culture has been the shift in the understanding of gender. The topic is unavoidable. Therefore, the crucial question becomes: What and who will shape the understanding of our children and our students? More than 10 years ago, Albert Mohler sent out this call to the church:

The fault lines of controversy in contemporary Christianity range across a vast terrain of issues, but none seems quite so volatile as the question of gender. As Christians have been thinking and rethinking these issues in recent years, a clear pattern of divergence has appeared. At stake in this debate is something more important than the question of gender, for this controversy reaches the deepest questions of Christian identity and biblical authority.

For too long, those who hold to traditional understandings of manhood and womanhood, deeply rooted in both Scripture and tradition, have allowed themselves to be pushed into a defensive posture. Given the prevailing spirit of the age and the enormous cultural pressure toward conformity, traditionalists are now accused of being woefully out of step and hopelessly out of date. Now is a good time to reconsider the issues basic to this debate and to reassert the arguments for biblical manhood and womanhood.

…For biblical traditionalists the choice is clear. We understand the Bible to present a beautiful portrait of complementarity between the sexes, with both men and women charged to reflect God’s glory in a distinct way. Thus, there are very real distinctions that mark the difference between masculinity and femininity, male and female. Standing on biblical authority, we must critique both the present and the past when the biblical pattern has been compromised or denied. Likewise, we must point ourselves, our churches, and our children to the future, affirming that God’s glory is at stake in our response of obedience or disobedience to His design.

(“A Call for Courage on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” at www.albertmohler.com)

At Children Desiring God, we take this call to be proactive very seriously, and, to that end we have developed a curriculum for youth specifically designed to “to present a beautiful portrait of complementarity between the sexes, with both men and women charged to reflect God’s glory in a distinct way.” As you plan for the fall, prayerfully consider incorporating Rejoicing in God’s Good Design: A Study for Youth on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood into your Sunday school or midweek class, or home.

 

Beyond “Something” for Youth

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Summer is often a great opportunity for scheduling special events for youth. Without the demands of school many students have more free time on their hands, so it’s important that the parents and ministry leaders do “something” to keep youth interested and involved with church-related activities over the summer months…right? Well yes, but how about aiming higher than merely “something”? Maybe think in these terms instead:

How can we…

Glorify God and increase joy in Him by planning events that…

…will display the glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior (1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

…will cause His Word to dwell richly in His people by His Spirit (Colossians 3:16-17).

…deepen the relationship between Christ and His church and build relationships within the believer’s household (Psalm 25:4, 14; Philippians 3:10).

…make disciples of Christ and work to bring them to maturity in Him (Colossians 1:28-29; Titus 2:3-8).

The above reflects the aim of Betty Dodge’s informative and inspirational seminar, “Reinforcing the Vision with Events and Programs.” Her handout, available here provides a wealth of information to help parents and ministry leaders with a step-by-step process for planning special events. But also listening to her seminar here will give you even more encouragement and helpful ideas.

(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Key Qualifications for Teaching Youth

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Have you ever felt a call or burden to teach the youth in your church? Have you been questioned as to your ability because of your age–too old to relate? Hear these words from Sally Michael in her recent seminar “Teaching Youth and Engaging their Hearts”:

The first year I taught junior high students in my church, someone who realized that I was going to teach youth said to me, “Do you think you can relate to youth?”

Now reading between the lines, I think what this person was saying in a kindly way was…do you realize that you are a beyond middle-aged woman…you don’t speak their language, you don’t know the jargon of youth…in other words, you are just not cool.

My reply was, “Yes, I can relate to them because at the core we are very much the same. We are both sinners…in need of grace. And I am very well qualified to talk about that. We have more in common than we have differences.”

What is your basis of relating to youth in your church? Is it being “hip and cool”—knowing the latest teen slang, being able to talk about their music, knowing the latest video games?

We miss the boat if we think that this is what it takes to relate to youth. We can relate because we all have the human dilemma—we need a sin-bearer so we can be right before a holy God; we need grace to daily crucify self and serve others; we need the power of the Holy Spirit to resist temptation and to walk in righteousness…we need the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Teens can easily intimidate teachers who feel they must entertain bored students or “relate” on their level. But the key to teaching youth is not to be intimidated by them, to realize the serious call to teach significant truth, to pray for your students, and to genuinely love your students.

Our confidence is not in the words we speak but in our common identification as sinners and in the message of hope, salvation, and grace that we bring to sinful men. Paul understood that and is a good model to us in how to bring that message to the youth in our churches:

1 Corinthians 2:1-5—And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

We all come to the task of teaching and mentoring youth in weakness…and sometimes “in fear and much trembling.” But the heart we bring to that ministry is what defines our ministry—do we bring hearts of dependence on the Holy Spirit; do we bring humble hearts not trusting in our cleverness but in the power of the Holy Spirit; do we bring hearts burdened that their faith would rest on the sufficiency of Christ? 

(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Going for Deep and Wide

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Here is a little assignment: What would you say best characterizes your church’s ministry to youth? What key words are used to describe its purpose, mission, and activities? (If you don’t know this off the top of your head, go to your church’s website and look for a link to youth ministries.) Now read these words from Pastor Kevin DeYoung in his post, “Reaching the Next Generation: Challenge Them With Truth”:

In his book on the religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers, Christian Smith coined the phrase “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” to describe the spirituality of American youth. They believe in being a good moral person. They believe religion should give you peace, happiness, and security. They believe God exists and made the world, but is not particularly involved in the day-to-day stuff of life…

Challenging the next generation with truth starts with honest self-examination. We must ask, “Do I know the plotline of the Bible? Do I know Christian theology? Do I read any serious Christian books? Do I know anything about justification, redemption, original sin, propitiation, and progressive sanctification? Do I really understand the gospel?” We cannot challenge others until we have first challenged ourselves. The “average” churchgoer must think more deeply about his faith. Many Christians need to realize, like I did one night in college when confronted with some of my own ignorance, that they don’t really know what they believe or why they believe it.

You’ve heard it said that Christianity in America is a mile wide and an inch deep. Well, it’s more like half a mile wide now. Christian influence is not as pervasive as it once was. I’m convinced that if Christianity is to be a mile wide again in America, it will first have to find a way to be a mile deep. Shallow Christianity will not last in the coming generation and it will not grow. Cultural Christianity is fading. The church in the 21st century must go big on truth or go home.

(published at The Gospel Coalition)

(Image courtesy of Susie B at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Youth Ministry: Set Apart or a Part?

Most churches heartedly affirm the importance of a thriving youth ministry within the local church. However, unless we are intentional, youth ministry can also be mistakenly viewed as a separate entity apart from the wider church body. So it’s important that we ask, “Are the structures and programs we have in place serving to help or hinder incorporating our young people into a bigger and more biblical vision of what it means to be a community of believers?”

Pastor Jon Nielson has some good diagnostic questions for youth ministers to think about. These questions also apply to parents and the wider church leadership:

  • Does our ministry compete in any way with the priority of corporate worship for students? 
  • Do our youth leaders intentionally encourage intergenerational relationships for the students? 
  • Does our ministry generally support or compete with the discipleship work of godly parents in our congregation? 
  • Are students encouraged to choose between youth ministry involvement/leadership and service in other areas of the local church? 
  • Does the youth ministry hinder, in any way, the preparation of young men and women to engage in local church contexts as adult Christians? 

 (“Does Your Youth Ministry Mess with Christ’s Bride?”, www.thegospelcoalition.org.)

(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

 

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