Right now, in our country, debate is raging about marriage equality. My Facebook and Twitter timelines are filling up with articles, messages, icons and new profile pictures that proclaim a student’s or adult’s stance on the issue. No matter what side you fall on in this debate, be aware that your students are talking about it.
With social media all abuzz, my students will have an opinion. Yours will too. That’s why this is the perfect time to talk through this issue biblically with your students. If we’re going to have a national discussion, as a youth pastor, you can help steer students toward a biblical view of the issue.
To do this you must be confident in your position at the church. You must also have beliefs that line up with your church’s or denomination’s doctrinal beliefs. If not, you may face ramifications, including the loss of your job, if you lead students toward a viewpoint your pastor, elders, leaders and/or congregation doesn’t agree with. It may even be beneficial to give your pastor a heads up that you plan to engage in this kind of conversation.
If you feel secure enough to talk about the issue, then it’s also important to research it. Just because an issue is topical doesn’t mean you don’t need to prepare. Think of questions to ask. Consider possible responses. Know what the majority of your students think about the issue. (In my rural setting, I’m pretty sure I know what my students think.) Be ready to squelch any arguments or heated discussion so you can keep it civil and focused on scripture. Make sure you have scriptural evidence handy.
Too often youth pastors are labeled as unprepared and slackers. Don’t give others that ammunition. If you have the confidence to engage in a potentially controversial conversation, then have the wherewithal to over-prepare for that discussion.
If you do and if you can, scripture can be opened up in a whole new way. Students can see how the Bible applies to their lives and how it interacts with our modern way of thinking. It may spurn a student to study scripture on their own and that’s never a bad thing.
However, don’t save these kinds of conversation for just controversial topics. Any kind of national story can easily lead to scriptural conversations with students. Look for ways to incorporate what’s happening in our nation and your community with your weekly youth gatherings. Take some time to make the Bible relevant to your students. Let them see it’s not just an old book we read in church but has practical applications in our world today.