Living out our theology in youth ministry

Theology is books and peopleEvery once in a while I stumble across and read through some of the testimonies people submit about why they left the Christian faith. It always breaks my heart, but I continue to read the stories because they teach me so much about how to respond to people like this in my own life.

This lady tells a pretty moving story about why she became an Atheist. Throughout the account of her life I see bad theology coupled with un-addressed and unanswered pain. I learned a couple things:

  • Build a relationship before blindly forcing theology on someone. Learn about what’s going on in their life and intentionally connect Truth to it after earning their respect.
  • Actions really do speak louder than words. How we live our life communicates a lot about our theology.
  • Avoid trite “Christian-ese.” Maybe it’s a boost for our ego to use big “meaningful” words, but it’s not worth alienating people.
  • Listen more than talk.
  • Be willing to ask the hard questions with people searching for answers. Questioning is a search for discovery, not an offensive threat.
  • Perhaps the most important question someone can ask is, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Don’t blow it off or give unsatisfactory Sunday school answers.

Having answers and knowing theology are so vitally important in youth and children’s ministry today, but it can have a negative affect if approached inconsiderately of the audience that hears it. Teaching theology is necessary, but maybe publicly living our theology for all to see is even more necessary today. Maybe theology should be caught more than it is taught.

Posted on November 1, 2006

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