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Teaching God’s Story to Youth


One of the challenges that I’ve run into in teaching the story of God is that some teenagers don’t explicitly know the elements of a story.  Now I know you don’t have to know the technical aspects of story in order for a story to be meaningful.  Yet, there is a restriction to the level of discernment that we can do if we don’t know how to “play” with a story.  I recognize this when my 22-month-old son plays with his blocks.  He knows that they connect together.  Yet, he doesn’t know the technical pieces of making a steady structure.  He joyously stacks one block on top of another until finally the blocks all crumble.  He’s a good builder but a horrible architect.

So it is with some teens and story.  They know that stories are meaningful but they share story after story not knowing what distinguishes a good story from a great story.  Ultimately this shows up in the telling of their own story.  They add in more detail then they know what to do and chase down rabbit holes.  All the while the meaning of their life story seems to evade them.

Here is a link to a simple chart and set of graphics I use to help teach the story of God to teens.  An exercise that I’ve used along with these illustrations is to ask teens to plot their life story along the plot line.  What typically follows is a discussion about how the conflict/s in our lives are resolved and how that compares to the grand conflict that all creation is experiencing.

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Paul Sheneman is an author, speaker and youth pastor. He serves with the Macedonia Methodist Church in Ohio. He drinks way too much coffee for his own good. His main interest is exploring Christian formation. You can follow most of his ramblings on his blog at www.discipleshipremix.com or on Twitter @PaulSheneman.