Archives For Bible Class

Like many of you, we have a set curriculum flow in our ministry and we use LIVE curriculum from the guys at Simply Youth Ministry. It has been an awesome tool for us to use and simply to put in the hands of our teachers who have material that is engaging, biblical, concise and relevant. Yet, we also have class on Wednesday nights and sometimes we have a special focus we do on Sunday mornings. I probably write 4-5 series a year that is mostly topic but every now and then I will spend time in a book. Often though I get asked, “How do you write so much material for your students?” I would like to give you some ideas that might help you in this and might spurn you to some amazing works. Only you can write the best curriculum for your group because only you know the DNA of your folk. Here my suggestions:

  • Jot down what your group is struggling with.

It could be a massive catastrophe that happened and you need to take some time to process it or it could be that your group is experiencing a lot of sexual temptations. What are their struggles?

  • Think biblical principles for growth

We need to move on having “neat ideas” and have something that will help them grow as a disciple. Don’t talk about faith, show them.

  • Think of different learning styles.

Do not write curriculum to be read to students with discussion questions at the end. Some students need that, some students need video, some students need games, but most need some type of physical engagement. Also have discussion questions that are thought provoking. Move past the “what do you think about that” questions.

  • Write a little bit each week

Have a schedule where you write a lesson a week. That is pretty easy to do. If you can’t do that then something is wrong with you. Seriously.

  • Ask feedback from the kids

They will tell you if they got something out of it or not. Let them process it with you.

  • Just keep doing it…

Some of my early series I wrote just stinks. I might even be judged for that kind of crap. Growth comes from consistency, persistence and the Holy Spirit.

What would you suggest? or…

What do you think about that? ūüôā


Great day I experienced with classes, super-sessions and keynote messages from some of the finest people in Christianity. I typed 10 pages of notes yesterday so I cannot include everything here but I want to give you some highlights that stood out to me.

Tuesday Morning, Mike Cope ‚ÄúSpiritual Intubation: How Community Keeps Us Alive‚ÄĚ The Wizard of Oz: Revelation‚Äôs View of Community

  • ‚ÄúNo church ever existed in a pure state. The church is made up of sinners. The fleas come with the dogs.‚ÄĚ (Eugene Peterson)
  • Four characters who are known by their deficiencies. Much like Christians today.
  • Showing of who Oz really is. ‚ÄúThe great Oz has spoken, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.‚ÄĚ
  • Pergamum
    • It‚Äôs a great distance from Colorado Springs to Pergamum.
    • In Pergamum it was very, very different.
    • Everywhere people went they told two stories: the power of Rome and Greek gods and goddesses. Everywhere they went they are told that they are caught up in and how could they not believe it. It ‚Äúhas to be true.‚Ä̬† Every market, athletic event, silver item told them about temple worship.
    • Where is the Pergamum church of Christ?
      • A tiny‚Ķinsignificant few.
      • Imagine holding on to the story of Jesus while walking among the temples and other places where the minority is huge.
      • Have you been the minority?
      • Power, honor, identity was wrapped up into gods and Rome not Christ.
    • Persecuted Christians get it
    • ‚ÄúThough St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw he saw no creatures so wild as one of his own commentators.‚ÄĚ G. K. Chesteron
  • Deep Community is anchored in Jesus
  • Deep community has to be eschatological in nature.
  • Deep community is at its best when it is part of a mission‚Ķa larger story.

Tuesday Morning Keynote Kurt Johnston @kurtjohnston ‚ÄúDeep, Redefined‚ÄĚ

  • Have you ever stopped and thought about all the things in youth ministry that you don‚Äôt do very well? We are great at trying to control the perceptions of other people. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great at creating perception of us.
  • Four truths I have learned that have 1) pointed out my shallowness and 2) led him into a deeper experience in faith.
    • Life is a squiggle
    • I need a travel partner
    • Busyness will keep you in the shallow end.
    • When you begin to have a long view of youth ministry

Tuesday Super Session Frank Viola @FrankViola ‚ÄúThe Missing Ingredient‚ÄĚ

Observations about ministry to young people:

  • Catch30 Crisis ‚Äď Human beings go through developmental stages as they get old. When they are 30 they reassess every decision they made in their 20s and they either abandon what hey believed or abandon them. You don‚Äôt know where someone is spiritually until they are thirty. You could not serve in the house of God until you were 30. Jesus did not begin his ministry until he was 30. Young people need to be prepared for this.
  • There is a difference between youthful enthusiasm and spirituality. Most of the big Christian movements are built on youthful enthusiasm. The problem is that many operates on youthful enthusiasm and the well runs dry
  • You can‚Äôt pass on to those whom you minister to what you have not experienced yourself.
  • I have to prepare them for the forgotten beatitude. Blessed is he who is not offended by me.

Other Notes from class…

  • If you cut the bible in any place it will bleed Jesus Christ.
  • Moses and Christ
  • Creation and Christ
  • Isaac and Christ
  • Jacob and Christ
  • Conclusion¬† – #1 – Find Christ in the bible. #2 ‚Äď Do business with the Lord

Tuesday Afternoon Class 1 Josh Graves @JoshGraves ‚ÄúThe Bible Jesus Read: Genesis 1-2‚ÄĚ

2 Timothy 3:14-17; John 5

  • We need a more mystical understanding of Scripture. But also how it calls us to new spaces.
  • ‚ÄúAll Scripture‚ÄĚ does not exist yet and he has in mind Torah.
  • Inspired‚Ķhe does not infallible, inerrant. They never show up in the bible. Sometimes the most important work we do is not learning new things but relearning old things.
  • 2 Timothy is not about proving Scripture over science but it is about inviting people into God‚Äôs world in order to see the world differently and ‚Äúto do something about it.‚ÄĚ
  • These stories carry the freight in any given culture.

Genesis 1

  • God can‚Äôt help but to create. He is in control. The things God creates would not be believable if we have not seen them.
  • Everything else that has creativity or imagination that somehow it is all linked back to the God who started.
  • One of the ways Genesis invites us to go deeper and that we live in a good creation. Does not deny the dark side of life but he made everything and called it good.
  • Most people who tell the story of God begin with Genesis 3 and not Genesis 1.
  • We have to introduce paradox to our students. Life is full of joy and pain. Paradox is one of the greatest contribution to the Western world.

Tuesday Afternoon Class 2 Sally Gary @centerpeaceinc ‚ÄúReaching out to Teens Who Identify as Gay and Lesbians‚ÄĚ

Many who struggle with same sex attraction but still love the Lord.  Struggles do not divide us.

Starved for Intimacy. Facebook and its struggles for intimacy. Question is: How can we meet this need? This desire for community. There is a great need for this connection.

What teens learn from the world: Glee, Modern Family.

What teens learn from the church: Nasty messages about homosexuals from the church

What they need is looking for a safe place.

How to be a safe place?

Deal with our own fears.

  • Change our thinking
  • Change our language
  • Listen
  • Be consistent
  • Model the Love and Acceptance of Christ

Tuesday Night Keynote Frank Viola @FrankViola ‚ÄúGod so loved the world vs. Love not the world.‚ÄĚ

The world in the New Testament is used in two ways…

  1. Speaks of the material universe. Jesus of Nazareth is this world’s true Lord.
  2. A system or network or order of things designed to draw us away from God.

Historically Christians have taken two postures: 1) Retreated from the world’s system (Isolationism) 2) Enmeshed by the world and married to it.

The most miserable person is a Christian who is living in a way where deep inside them they are told to give something up and they can’t. When we are in community with other Christians the Holy Spirit is clearest.

The Holy Spirit will reveal to you what is of the world.

2 Kind of legalists: 1) Salvation by works 2) I am going to take what the Holy Spirit has shown me personally and make it a law to you.

“The gospel spreads best not through force but through fascination” (Shane Claiborne)

Dinner in Colorado Springs: Uchenna Ethiopian Restaurant

This was ranked #2 in Colorado Springs by TripAdvisor and it was awesome. I had Yebeg Alecha which was tender pieces of lamb marinated with butter then saut√®ed with ginger, garlic, and 12 spices. There were no forks but you had this roll that you put the meat and the sauce in. It was excellent. The owner’s name is Maya and they cooked everything to order so it took a while but the food was worth it. They have mostly organic food and a substantial vegetarian menu. I have never tried authentic Ethiopian cuisine but this was a must! Went a left the owner looked at me and said, “Go in peace.” I love her already.


Creative Commons ©GeoWombat

Have you ever sat in a bible class, small group or whatever and secretly you wished the fire alarm would set off so you would be forced to leave the class? Or maybe you thought about clever ways to get up. The fake cough so you have to go get some water move. The bathroom visits or my favorite, the “I have to take this phone call” move but nobody really called. Some classes are better than others but there are certain mistakes you can avoid to help in any class. I have taught lessons where kids just did not get it and it was a mistake on my part. So I thought about some lessons I would give you to avoid based on personal experience…

10.¬† Procrastinate – Don’t be lazy and wake-up Sunday morning and think, “Oh yeah, I have to teach class this morning! I guess I will just throw in some Rob Bell and hope it sticks.”

9.¬† Elevate Media over Content – I’m all for holistic teaching but do you really need to spend that much time on a PowerPoint or picture on a handout? but…

8.¬† Neglect Media altogether – Can we say balance? Say it again. I know Microsoft Clip Art was cool back in the 90s but don’t sell yourself short.

7. Lecture – My attention span for a lecture is about 20 minutes and I take notes. Take off 15 years of maturity and that number drops drastically. By all means discuss. Which brings me to another point…

6. Neglect learning styles – Some learn hands-on and some learn through lecture. Some want a craft and some want silent reflection. Use balance.

5. Allow people to monopolize discussion – I am all for discussion but sometimes there are those who like to discuss for discussing sake. In a loving way, allow for discussion but stay on target.

4.¬† Fail to make application – I am not talking about moralizing texts but at some point there has to be a “so what?”

3.  Ignore where God is leading the class Рthis is hard because sometimes people monopolize discussion but sometimes God may be leading the discussion into a place that he wants it. Discern and listen.

2. Fail to use resources – “I got to do this by myself” is an attitude of class-destruction. Use resources like publications, personnel (ask teens to teach) and prayer.

1. Don’t evaluate – This is one of the biggest mistakes I continue to make. When we don’t follow up after a class by writing some notes about how the class went or how we taught it then we fail each time. Write how the class went to make it better the next time.

What would you suggest?

Slide Design by

We are starting a new series in our Wednesday night class called “A Messy World.” I thought about this series a year ago but have put it on the back-burner until now. The basic premise is that because of The Fall we all live in a messy world (messed-up) world. Sin is pervasive no matter who you are and the only cure for this messy world is placing our full faith and devotion in Jesus Christ. Last night to begin our lesson I decided to trash the youth house to give it that messed-up appearance.

Below is an outline of our study. You can also download a copy of our introduction and first lesson below. Let me know what you think.

·         The Messy Beginning (1 Lesson)

·         Personal Messes (3 Lessons)

o   Addictions

o   Depression

o   Idolatry

·         Relational Messes (3 Lessons)

o   Family

o   Friends

o   Significant Others

·         Spiritual Messes (3 Lessons)

o   False Christianity

o   The Sinful Nature

o   Suffering

·         The Clean Ending (2 Lessons)

o   Return to Eden

o   Admitting our Mess


Download: Lesson 1 РTeacher Copy

“The Prophets” Oil Painting by Angelico

Share this verse in a class with teenagers…

“When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, ‚ÄúGo, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord” (Hosea 1:2).

That is a verse a sneaky little junior-high kid would come across to share with his friends and laugh and snicker. But how do you teach stuff like that to teenagers? Let me assure you that some of the stuff you come across in Scripture is graphic and would be considered R-rated material in movies. Yet if we are to declare the entire counsel of God (Acts 20:27) then teaching difficult sections is part of it. If you ignore the sections that are difficult to explain then teenagers will feel cheated if not led astray.

One of those sections in Scripture is the section called the Minor Prophets (Hosea-Malachi). Typically these books were called “The Twelve” and are labeled “minor” not because of theology but because of length. There are 1,050 total verses in the minor prophets where as Jeremiah (1,364), Isaiah (1,292) and Ezekiel (1,273) each have more verses than the minor prophets (Source). The twelve are filled with judgments of doom on different nations yet they are also filled with hope for God’s steadfast love (chesed). So how do you teach these books to teenagers?

Place them in their historical context

These books were written during the period of history among God’s people known as the Monarchy or United/Divided Kingdom. It would do the teacher well to read 1 Samuel-2 Chronicles and pay attention to the different kings of the Northern and Southern kingdoms. Also understanding the outside influences of Assyria, Philistia and other nations is very important for placing the books in a context. I will caution you to do some major studies on this so that you can understand where the writer is coming from but please do not go overboard in sharing this information with your teenagers. They do not have to read all of 1-2 Kings to understand a minor prophet. Introduce the context so they can understand where the prophet is coming from.

Take some time to explain the prophetic role.

Teenagers (and adults too!) think prophecy means predicting future events yet most of the prophet’s role was to declare judgment on a nation for its rampant disobedience (usually idolatry). Again, don’t go overboard with this but simply introduce the role of the prophet even tying in the idea that maybe God (in a different but similar way) is calling us to be prophetic today.

Think big picture instead of verse-by-verse

I am not against a verse-by-verse approach but it seems that there are some common threads throughout the prophets that can be taught instead of going through the entire twelve books. Threads like:

  • God’s Judgment
  • Disobedience
  • Idolatry
  • Apathy
  • Entitlement (bad and good)
  • Covenant Love
  • Justice and Injustice
  • Forgiveness
  • Repentance
  • God’s mercy and grace
  • Law (i.e, Torah)

Threads like that will allow teenagers to see the forest through the trees.

Finally, place HEAVY emphasis on God’s redemptive plan among the mess of his people

Whether it is talking about outright rebellion like Jonah or the people of God filled with an insatiable greed (Hag. 1:6) God always had a desire to first discipline but with the purpose of bringing his people towards righteousness. And when the people went towards righteousness God would restore them to waves and waves of his steadfast love. The life of a teenager is weird, complex, difficult and confusing. They are going through so many changes physically, mentally and emotionally. Their lives, more often than not, are messy. They need to understand God’s redemptive purposes and covenantal love despite their sinful and rebellious tendencies. A relationship with God is messy and they need to understand God is in the mess. Tie the cross in as God’s ultimate work of redemption and restoration for his people.

What are your suggestions/methodologies?


Hey guys. I got a deal for you that involves the next episode of Youth Ministry 6.3! I interviewed Andy Blanks who is the cofounder of Youth Ministry 360 and we talk a little bit about blogging. He gave me a free resource called VIVID which is a 6-week study of the book of James. It is a $69.99 dollar value that I want to give you free. Seriously. Here’s the catch…I only have one of them so it will be a random drawing. All you have to do is

1. Subscribe to my blog (

2. Comment on the post that will include the video interview. I will send it to you tomorrow.

Then I will do a random drawing based on comments and mail you the lessons for free! Sound cool? Spread the word though and e-mail your youth ministry contacts (forward this) and I will select it on Friday. Post will come out tomorrow and drawing will come out on Friday.

Here is a link to the free resource…


There is no doubt in my mind that this post is going to offend some of you and if it does then I am truly sorry.¬† Do what you normally do when you disagree with something I (or someone else) say…ignore it.¬†

I am concerned that we (Christianity/the Church) have fostered what Kenda Creasy Dean so eloquently defines as a “do-good, feel-good spirituality that has little to do with the Triune God of Christian tradition and even less to do with loving Jesus enough to follow him into the world” (Almost Christian, p. 4).¬† There is a lot to unpack and there is not “one-thing” that is causative for this pop-psychology “blue-skies-and-rainbows” type spirituality.¬† Dean points to many factors but something that is foundational is our theology (or lack thereof)¬†that shapes a pat-you-on-the-back approach to Christianity.¬† Please do not misunderstand me as I am all about words of affirmation and encouragement as people who are in deep moments of despair need words immersed in grace and hope.¬† That is not what I am talking about.¬† I am speaking of the sermons, classes, youth talks, books and conversations all that funnel our spiritual formation into one idea: what makes me feel good for the day.¬† Part of that funnel process is how we approach Scripture.¬†

Reading on Facebook and looking at all of the daily devotional material it is doubtless that you have not come across the verse-of-the-day approach to spirituality.¬† Verse-of-the-day approaches to spiritual formation seem to limit what God had in mind with Scripture.¬† I receive verses of the day through Twitter (4 different groups), Facebook (3 different groups, numerous people) and e-mail.¬† I tend not to read the verses of the fday because most of them are the same.¬† They are designed to make you feel better about the day in a self-help, pick-you-up type of approach.¬† Notice you will see verses like Genesis 50:20; Isaiah 40:31; Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 6:6-8; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 4:13; James 4:7, 10; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Romans 8:28; Jeremiah 29:11; and anything in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).¬† Don’t get me wrong because those verses are all amazing and life-changing.¬† But all have a context located in Scripture but also a historical context.¬† You don’t get that on a Twitter feed or on a status update.¬† Two problems I see with this approach:

  1. This approach has the danger of taking verses out of context.¬† Jeremiah 29:11 is my classic example: “For I know the plans I have for you,‚ÄĚ declares the LORD, ‚Äúplans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”¬† Little do they realize that in context God is speaking to the people who will have to endure exile in Babylon for 70 years (29:10)!¬† Then they will propser!¬† That doesn’t sound so appealing on a coffee-cup does it?¬†
  2. This approach has the danger of neglecting other verses in Scripture.¬† I jokingly put on my facebook status these words: “Anti-coffee cup verse: ‘When a man or a woman has spots on the skin of the body, white spots, the priest shall look, and if the spots on the skin of the body are of a dull white, it is leukoderma that has broken out in the skin; he is clean’ (Lev. 13:38-39).”¬† I wanted to make the point that nobody puts that as a daily bible verse (rightfully so) but does it deserve any less attention?¬† Nobody “liked” that on my status nor did they comment on that.¬†¬†Furthermore, the verses that we may need to be paying attention to are often the verses¬†that do not pop-up in our verse-of-the-day websites (Luke 13:3 anyone?).¬† ¬†¬†

The flip side of this discussion is that these things are not bad in-and-of-themselves.¬† If they¬†aide you in a daily walk with God then it is a good thing.¬† But these things should never be ends¬†to the goal of spiritual formation.¬† Reading the bible in 90 days (or a year) has the same danger as the verse-of-the-day approach.¬† We need to learn how to read Scripture and read it well.¬† We¬†should not neglect the “tough” parts of the bible just because we can’t understand them.¬† There are books upon books that are written to teach you how to read the bible.¬† Matter-of-fact there is a book called, How to read the bible for all its worth.¬† Check it out sometime.¬†¬†

I hope this blog post has challeneged you and if I offended you…I am sorry and ignore it.¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

I will not be posting for a few days but plan on returning to the Christmas series on Monday. ¬†I have added three sermons and a world religions study on the “Sermons and Class Material” page.

Check it out at

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). ¬†It is fitting that our world was not formed spontaneously through a series of random events but began as a unique creation from a unique God. ¬†I once attended a bible class with my wife (she was my girlfriend at the time) and we sat there while an older gentleman read questions, comments and material straight from a book published (at least) 20-30 years before that moment. ¬†I understand churches are stretched for talent in their teachers and¬†sometimes¬†there is not¬†enough¬†creativity or discussion about the bible class itself so I give people the¬†benefit¬†of the doubt. ¬†However, we need to have more innovation in our bible classes ranging from new teaching methods to brainstorming opportunities. ¬†Lecture, discussion, role-play and other ideas all should be discussed among education planning committees.

Do you even have education planning committees?  Do you have set goals (we do not)?  Do you have a process of discussing new ideas in a fun format (like an education planning retreat)?  Do you leave all the planning up to one guy or girl?  Let me encourage you to have these discussions and more.  We will talk about this later.

NEW IDEA: I am not sure how you do your classes whether they are divided up into quarters, 10 week, 8 week or 6 week formats.  We have the quarter format and it gets pretty cumbersome towards the end of the quarter.  So what I do at about the 10th week or so is have a random night of singing, brainstorming or just fun.  Forgive me if I take one week away from 1 John or Minor Prophets but sometimes we need a healthy break.  This past Wednesday we had a fun time that was inspired by Rusty Pettus at his student minister retreat.  I divided the class into 6 groups and gave them each a big sheet of paper asking them to think about things in the youth group and come up with creative ideas.  Bible class, evangelism, service projects and group names were some of the things I wanted them to discuss.  Each person had to share and there was a time limit.  Then I yelled rotate and they went to another piece of paper that the other group was working on until they completed all 6.  It was fun, innovative and a break from the long quarter system that I dread, disdain and loathe.  I digress.

“Chance favors the prepared” has more wisdom to it than one may think. ¬†The bible class, in my opinion, is where it all happens. ¬†By “all” I mean this is where the journey of ¬†discipleship¬†begins and a person learns what is required of them. ¬†A quote that I probably “wear-out” in my writing comes from a well-written book by John Stackhouse, Jr.¬†entitled Making the Best of It. He writes:

‚ÄúIn a wide-ranging study of a number of major American denominations, the Search Institute of Minneapolis determined that the most important factor in producing a mature, well-balanced, and well-integrated Christian faith was not excellent preaching, worship, small-group fellowship, or anything else but adult Christian education‚ÄĚ (emphasis mine).[1]

We could easily add the equal importance of “young Christian education” to the quote. ¬†So my encouragement to youth ministers, teachers and volunteers is to prepare. ¬†Prepare in the form of training whether it is a training day dedicated to teachers on how to teach or shadowing a teacher for a quarter and learning from them. ¬†Another thing that bothers me (it’s not wrong…it’s just personal) is that so many churches are quick to purchase materials (workbooks, DVDs or anything Youth Specialties/Gospel Advocate/21st Century puts out). ¬†We purchase some materials but for the most part we (I) write our own curriculum. ¬†It is tedious, it takes time, sometimes the lessons are not as attractive, sometimes the lessons do not look appealing to the eye but they are our own. ¬†You can’t beat lessons that are specifically¬†tailored for the dynamic of your own group. ¬†Quit being lazy and write your own lessons.
Something else…don’t just “wing it” when you get to class. ¬†I have done it because of time constraints and probably will do it because of time constraints but making a habit of this and hoping the Holy Spirit will help you out every time is about as foolish as it gets. ¬†You want something (a God-moment) to happen in your class? ¬†Prepare.
IDEA: For preparation how about your church holding an education training day? ¬†Target different groups (pre-school, young kids, junior-high, senior-high, young adult and adult) in your church and have break-out sessions that teach you how to teach these specific groups. ¬†Another idea is to have one quarter dedicated to teachers where an experienced teacher will instruct you on how to lead others. ¬†Do not hesitate on purchasing materials to perfect your craft. ¬†Ask local educators on what books can make you a more effective teacher for the specific age group you teach. ¬†Don’t forget to pray.

[1].  Stackhouse, Jr., Making the Best of It, 315.