Written by Steph Raubenheimer, Area Director, Lower Westchester County, NY
“He has set eternity on the heart of every man..” from Ecclesiastes 3:11
For a long time I skipped over the idea of kids understanding Scripture in my WyldLife club talks: I relied on humor + the kids trust me + the kids like me + read relevant verses and translate tax-collector to 'unliked peer' + the Holy Spirit will do the work! If you’re following my confession, I wasn’t being diligent to help make sense of the Word. The fallout was that they didn’t get a full opportunity to think about what the living and active word of God says. Wow.
So, how do we make the Scripture we share with our middle school friends accessible? As a WyldLife leader, you have a distinct opportunity to unpack the living word of God so that kids can understand it - and therefore consider it, search their hearts, and move toward Jesus’ love for them.
Note: I am not saying it’s our role to bring a heart to understanding; that is the work of the Holy Spirit. I’m encouraging us to help kids understand what Scripture says and means—in YL terms, “bring Scripture to life.”
Let’s tackle an example to flesh out how this might work: You’re planning to read the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19, and you want kids to hear that Jesus goes out to find us.
Keep context part of your talk.
You may lose your listeners if you read from a tax report from that century or even share three sentences about what a tax collector is. One succinct, clear sentence is a translation. That’s the goal here - a translation. If you go on to talk about Zacchaeus’ conundrum, his feelings, etc, that would be different from the contextual piece—if you have this in addition to translating what a tax collector was, great!
Go beyond context and map this Scripture onto life for middle schoolers.
We tend to settle at context and let a comparison do the work. “Imagine Zaccheaus as Justin Bieber, boys..” Potentially great start (depending on your kids), but don’t stop there. You may need to do some homework here—ask some WyldLife friends a few questions about life, dig into your journal from seventh grade to refresh the feelings, Google some pop culture themes that fit.
This can become your application. Picture yourself tracing the scriptural account onto the world that your kids are in. When I map Scripture onto life it makes more sense to me. This is a real gift we get to give kids. That, along with the Holy Spirit, is the living and active part. Note: Your maps shouldn’t be identical! But they will relate. (And yes – it will be challenging to provide context and map Scripture while still keeping talks short to meet the attention spans of middle school kids.)
Hit it home with an Ecclesiastes 3:11, and say what it means. Say what it means to you.
As a WyldLife leader, you probably have several verses that you lean on for communicating the depth of God’s love for us. These are precious words that kids need not only to hear but comprehend. Trust the Holy Spirit will open kids’ eyes, minds and hearts, and steward your comprehension of Scripture.
Because if you ever doubt it: They are listening. May we take an appropriate role in kids’ comprehension of Scripture that they may respond to the Gospel.