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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Shiny Penny Kids and how to reach them. kids in my current Sunday school class are all great kids: Good grades, well behaved, two parent households, attend church regularly, lots of after school activities. So what's wrong with that? For one thing, they are actually harder to reach than the so-called fringe kids. They take in the Biblical knowledge I teach them but it's hard to tell if their hearts are being touched. I was a bit miffed about what to do until I read Chap Clark's book shown below. 2.0: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers
By Chap Clark / Baker Academic

Hurt provided a vivid and insightful view into the world of today's teenagers. Contemporary adolescents seem confident, well-adjusted, and happy. But beneath the surface, they're often lonely, insecure, and empty. What's going on? Claiming that adults have "abandoned" teens just when they most need support, Clark's ethnographic study examines today's changing youth culture from the inside out and suggests five strategies to "turn the tide of systemic abandonment."

I also took a class from him at this years Simply Youth Ministry Conference. Now I know that even these "shiny-penny" kids feel abandoned and alone at times. The shiny pennies are just really good at covering up the hurt and conforming to adults expectations but they still hurt. After much thought and reviewing my own middle school history I see that this loneliness can actually be used as a "God -provided" entry point into a teens heart.

In my case, walking home from school one day in the eighth grade, I strongly heard God's voice or the Holy Spirit bringing up verses, that reminded me that I was His son. "You are my son, " I heard over and over. I felt the presence of God strongly. "Look straight ahead not down, you are my son." I knew I had heard the verses in Sunday school about being adopted into the family of God (Ephesians 1:5) and being heirs with Jesus (Romans 8:17) but now it was real.this realization changed everything for me. My self-esteem went up, even my grades went up. I have operated with that knowledge in my heart ever since.

We, as teachers, need to be mindful of the faith we are leading our kids to. Is it one of performance, cleaning up their act to be shiny pennies or is it adoption into the family of God. What a solution to the loneliness once they realize, "He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6). My father is with me all the time. What an opportunity we have to make the connection between the head knowledge and the hearts understanding.

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