TEACHING YOUNG PEOPLE
INTRODUCTION: Are we trying to save our youth? Or, are we just holding class periods? If all we are doing is holding our own young people, we are losing ground fast.
The years of adolescence are 13 years through 21 years. In the United Pentecostal Church, we include 12 years olds.
This age is the back door to the Sunday School, and the church as a whole. This also, is one of our most needy fields.
I. THE TASK BEFORE US.
A. Our concern
1. Youth is a searching age. “Styles are hungry souls searching for something.” (David wilkerson) The
things they are searching for is reality.
2. They are searching for a new socialization, new standards, and new religions. We are seeing a revival in witch craft, dope addiction, and in our churches.
3. The world is trying to fill the longings of young people today.
B. The Challenge.
1. Over one-half of the U. S. population is under 25 years old.
2. Other churches are losing young people, and are not able to fill all their pulpits. We have the message. THIS IS OUR DAY
II. UNDERSTANDING ADOLESCENCE.
No teacher, counselor, or preacher can be effective unless he understands those with whom he is working.
The Bible tells us, as Jesus was teaching, “He precived what was in their hearts.” The reason He taught
as he did was because He understood the inner needs of His class.
There is three factors we need to consider when teaching the adolescent.
A. Physical Development
The youth is realizing a greater physical change at this time than at any other time since birth. They are no longer children, but young adults.
Physically, the boy or girl in the early teens is over-grown and awkward. The parts of the body do not grow at the same rate, and there is clumsiness and incoordination of movement. The boy’s voice breaks, The girl feels big and restless and is afraid to talk. Both are very sensitive. Tensions which arise because of physical maturing may cause uncomfortable self-consciousness and tendency to withdraw.
B. Emotional Development
Adolescence is a time of emotional upheaval. One moment they are very much grown up, the next they are very much children. They are very moody. They can be happy and care free and then make a quick change to express anger, fear, and doubt. Many of the adolescents may feel that “no one understands me.” And this maybe true because he does not understand himself. What is happening is the youth is trying to find his self hood (identity) in the values he will either accept or reject among the people in the world around him. I think of youth as the lump of clay that is being molded into a vessel of honor or dishonor.
The teacher must realize that every person has certain basic needs that are more vital than any others, these needs are:
1. To Be Loved
If all human beings need to be loved, the teacher ought to offer some of this love. The love of God has brought us to salvation. And His love through us can bring our youth to salvation. If the word, love seems out of place, we might substitute caring for. Our youth must feel that we really care for them. We must love them as they are, knowing their behavior has a reason.
2. To Feel Secure.
The feeling of security is extremely important. Many people have told me, “I would like to go to Sunday School, but I am afraid I will be made to read, or be asked a questions I don’t know the answers.” The student should feel secure with whatever knowledge he has of the scripture, or of God, or even his experience with God.
“Boys and girls who lack a feeling of secure status in the homes are more likely to be influenced strongly by the beliefs and activities of their “gang” than those who have satisfying family relationships” (Crane, 1955). If the church can supply this, then it may become their “gang”.
3. To Belong.
Sometimes a youngster in a class is an outcast
from the group. After attending our Sunday School for four years, or more, I found some students referring to it as “your church.” This is not my church, or class, but it belongs to you and is dedicated to God. A sensitive teacher will work hard to make every student feel he belongs to the class, or group.
4. To Feel Successful
Too many teachers take all their time telling the student what he is doing wrong. Every person must feel he is accomplishing something important. Can we praise our young people for their stand, their standards, and their trials, although they seem as small ones to the adults? With all our “No’s” do we have left a few “Yes’s”?
5. To Love.
Life is not complete merely receiving. Each person needs to love and to give of himself. The teacher needs to be aware of situations and occasions when he may help his students to express love, and to give of themselves to others. This is the best way to stop feuds between rivals.
6. To Integrate the Self.
This could be called “Development of Values.” It has been said that the adolescent has no values. As a child he lives by the values of his parents, and ask few questions about them. But now he is becoming an independent individual and will live his life according to his system of values.
The young person begins to ask, “Is there really a God?” “Why holiness ?” “Why Holy Ghost ?” “Why Oneness?” “Why can’t I be like others?” The church must be prepared to answer, or the world will.
While some say “Why God?” others are saying “Why not God?”
7. To Be like His Peers.
Peers are a social group of equals in age, and status, such as a group of school classmates.
Peer groups have strong effect on adolescents. He feels he must be accepted by his peers, and that he is accepted when he is as much like his peers as is humanly possible. This is the age of fads. Their clothing (style), speech, and actions must all be alike.
A article in the “NEA JOURNAL” says, “Most teenagers would rather be dead than be different.” and “Being one of the herd seems to be the teenagers main aims in life.”
If your youth group, or class, tends to be worldly, or uninterested, it may be the standard of the peer group and not that of the church. The only way a change can come about is to work with the total group The teacher must get to know the group leaders and gain their confidence.
The church must become it’s own peer group to help the teenager both inside and outside the church.
C. Spiritual Development.
In the teen years we form the values of our lives that we will live by the rest of our years. In adolescence their is a definite spiritual awakening. The teenager suddenly finds himself standing at the cross roads of right and wrong. Studies have shown that first deep religious impressions come between the of 12 and 13 years old. One church group observed that only 1/6 of their conversions came after 20 years old, and one-half of these before 24 years old. The chances, they say, are 1,000 to 1 of conversion after 30 years old.
The concerned teacher must remember it is win them now, or, maybe lose them for ever.