It’s currently summer time and thousands of teenagers will make commitments to Christ at camp and drop their commitment as fast as a bag of dirty laundry when they get home. We can change this.
It’s my belief that it takes multiple commitments to Christ before a teenager starts to “get it” and they discover the goodness of God in their life. How many times did it take you before faith became a part of your spiritual make up? I would say it takes daily commitment and any commitment a teenager makes is just one in a long line until they die.
As youth pastors we should’t ring the victory bell too early, as if one prayer solidifies everything and we can just go off and do something else.
What teenagers need is the permission, freedom and grace to start again and again.
Some teens (if not all, I some way) are crippled by failure. If they did not do well in soccer, they quit. They didn’t have a good play rehearsal, they quit. If faith doesn’t radically take away all the temptations and problems immediately, they quit. And so do a lot of adults if we’re honest.
I’m not blaming students as much as I am observing their need for quick fixes and instant gratification. Faith is no different. If a teen does not feel like the youth group or youth pastor does not have their back or no one is investing in them or they have no place to use their talent, frustration and hopelessness rear their ugly heads.
Teens need to know, understand and have permission and opportunity to start again. This lesson is the first in in a new five week series I’ve written to help you help teens start again with grace and understanding.
Week One: Start Again
Week Two: Erased
Week Three: The Cover Up
Week Four: Delete
Week Five: Remember
Here’s the first lesson free. I’d love if you checked out the series here
Week One: Start Again
Note: You’ll need an Etch a Sketch
Opening Video: Show a short clip of movie bloopers to set up your talk about starting again. I recommend videos that have no bleeps in them. Here’s a link to The Lego Movie Batman blooper I used.
Say: When we see a film we see the finished product. We don’t see all the mistakes it took to get the finished product. Actors are paid millions of dollars to hit their marks and now their lines, it’s good to know they’re human just like us.
Read: I John 1:8,9
We all have bloopers, things we have said and done that plays like a blooper real in our head. Some things are bloopers, mistakes we make that have no eternal impact, but there are some bloopers God calls sin. When we don’t live from the “script”, the Bible, and decide to improv our way through life according to what we think is best, then we are not hitting the mark (sin), God has put in place for us.
Read: John 3:1-5
So, what do we do with all these “bloopers”? How do get back on script?
Jesus had conversation with a prominent religious leader about this. Nicodemus was torn about Jesus doing miracles. He knew God was with Him, but most of his peers believed Jesus was a danger and a false prophet. Nicodemus was not seeing the kingdom of God clearly so Jesus told him , “You must be born again”
Nicodemus didn’t get it. He thought he had to start life over, go back in his mother’s womb and be born again. Try this: Go home and tell your mom you have to get back in her belly to experience new life Christ. Your mother might say, “Uh uh! Giving birth to you the first time was hard enough.”
Jesus was not saying, start over, but start again.
Nicodemus has to walk through four steps to start again
He must humble himself and confess that he is wrong and Jesus is right
Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real. -Thomas Merton
Repentance Part 1
Nicodemus has to stop believing and acting on the wrong information he’s received from those who disbelieved Jesus. He would have to act, in faith, against all the negativity and believe.
Repentance Part 2
Based on new information, and revelation of God’s spirit, Nicodemus has to start living on the new information he has received.
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14
The last thing Nicodemus has to do is follow. Jesus offers Nicodemus a chance to know what the Kingdom of God really looks like, but he’ll have to follow Jesus to discover it.
Just like I John 1:8,9. We have to admit we have sin, confess our sins and let the God do what He promised which was to forgive them and make us righteous.
What does starting again look like?
Say: That was a pretty cool drawing, but in order for the artist to draw anything else he’d have to buy a new Etch-A-Sketch. Sure, he could keep the Thanos art, but what if he thinks of a new idea or what if he could do better? He has to start over.
Note: Break out the Etch a Sketch and ask how many know what this is?
In order to create something new, you have to get rid of what’s old. In order to get rid of what’s old, you have to shake things up. (Shake the Etch a Sketch)
Through Christ’s death on the cross, Jesus shook things up and cleared all our sin so we could start again, if we wanted.
Do you want to shake things up? Do you want to start again and let Jesus draw a better picture of your life?
Read: 2 Corinthians 5:17
God made a way for us to start again, though Christ. God desires us to be in relationship with him and in the process we become new creatures.
Oh, and Nicodemus? Did he make it?
Read: John 19:39–42
Nicodemus came and claimed the body of Jesus and help prolapse his body for worship. He didn’t quit. He followed through. I imagine he may have had to start again a few times to get here, but he made it.
Close in prayer
Check out 7 Elements Every Youth Curriculum Should Have for a another freebie