How to Allow Doubt in Jr. High Ministry

It’s a fairly well-known fact that Jr. High students simply aren’t as capable of abstract, complex thinking as fully developed adults. As their brains are transitioning into becoming adult brains, it is difficult to teach topics that hold two opposing thoughts in tension.

For instance, when we speak about God, we generally interchange the names Jesus and God fairly liberally. It’s not that we don’t believe in the distinct persons of the Trinity; it’s just a difficult, abstract theological concept that is hard to explain to a black & white thinking Jr. high student.

Having been influenced by reading guys like Andrew Root and Peter Rollins in his latest book, Insurrection, I’ve been wondering if it is in fact possible to allow the tension of doubt to seep into my own messages to Jr. High students.

This last week, we talked about how God’s mission is to be known and to heal the world. Jesus came in Earth in part to re-establish God’s mission to his people. And Jesus did heal people. He did make God known. And ultimately, he fulfilled his primary mission of dying for our sins.

But when it came to accomplishing God being known COMPLETELY and healing the world COMPLETELY, it hasn’t happened.

Instead of just brushing past this with: “Well, that’s just the way it’s supposed to be students,” I let this tension hang there for 3-5 minutes. “Has God healed the world completely? No. Has God completed His mission? No. So what’s up with that?”

See, too often, we simply provide trite and simple answers to complex and abstract issues. Although I believe we live in the “now and not yet” tension of Jesus coming once and waiting for him to come again, although I ultimately landed on this idea that We are God’s Plan A to Help Him Accomplish His Mission, I wanted students to wrestle with this idea that maybe God isn’t who we think he is.

It’s a scary thing to open up the door to doubt, especially with Jr. High students. But, I firmly believe that if I can help them wrestle with the doubts NOW that will inevitably come up at some point in life, they will possess a more processed faith LATER.

How do you engage students with doubt?

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