Back-to-school time is just around the corner. For most teens, classes, teachers and homework aren't particularly high on their list of fun activities. But time moves on, and there's no escaping the reality that another school year is pressing in on you, as unstoppable as a boulder crashing down a mountain.
While you may not like the inevitable reality of early mornings, boring classes and the demands of homework, look at the bright side. It will throw you into consistent contact with all sorts of teens.
Life is full of things we're not necessarily crazy about, but check out what the Apostle Paul had to say about life when he was facing something tough - jail:
And I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. . . And because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Christ. (Phil. 1:12, 14)
If the Apostle Paul could view being thrown in jail as an opportunity for sharing the Gospel, maybe you should look at school with new eyes!
Most students view the start of the new school year as an opportunity for new beginnings - a time for signing on with new school clubs and organizations. So step up and invite your unchurched friends to join you for youth group where they can make new friends, have some fun and explore spiritual truths about God. Don't wait 'til their schedules overflow with new commitments and past due homework - take the initiative and invite them early and often, and if possible try to offer them help with transportation.
And if you extend the invitation and your friends turn you down, don't consider it a defeat. Use it as an opportunity to engage in God talk and maybe you'll get the chance to explain why spiritual things are important to you! Here are a few suggestions to help you get the conversation going.
• Talk about schedules and plans for the new school year. Ask your friends how they decide what's important. What influences their decisions about how they spend their time? Do they decide what to do on any given night based on what they think is fun, what's shouting out at them the loudest, or what they think is really important? This may open the door for you to talk about how your spiritual beliefs impact how you choose to spend your time. Let them know Jesus is important to you and why!
• Ask your friends what they think of church. Listen. Then share your experience. Invite them to join you for youth group at least once, just to check it out first-hand.
• Once you know what they think of church, ask them what they think about God. Do they believe in God? Why or why not? Share what you believe. For help with this check out the GOSPEL Journey.
As you plan you own schedule of routine commitments for the coming year, include your friends in the discussion. Plan to make God and youth group a priority in your schedule long before you're frantically looking for things to bail on because you operating on overload. And invite your friends to join you because the absolute best thing they could learn about during this new school year is Jesus!
Jane Dratz works for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., a ministry committed to energizing and equipping teens to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries, please visit www.dare2share.org. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.