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From Controversies to Jesus-Centered Conversation

hottopicsThe reality of bomb testing.

The mystery of Donald Trump.

The threat of ISIS.

The ambiguity of sexuality.

Students, families and even random adults in your church have no shortage of hot topics to throw your way.

Whether you’re taken aback from a recent zinger or are trying to think ahead of any curve ball zooming your way, you can take the controversy they’ve thrown at you and have a Jesus-centered conversation.

Students definitely have their own interests. One moment they’re talking about Star Wars and the next they’re asking you to explain why things are the way they are. One home school student recently asked me to define “lesbianism” and was shocked to hear even a general answer about it. Meanwhile, other students are so thick into it that it’s a topic they don’t even know to bring up.

As an analogy (and perhaps a talking point with your students), consider an 18-year old who illegally scaled one of the Great Pyramids.

How much of this climber’s narration reflects the values we tend to talk about in regards to hot topics?

  • Feelings trump morals: “The view from the top… it was really, really amazing.”
  • Laws don’t matter: “I didn’t care, I just started climbing.”
  • Authority can be ignored: “The police noticed me… ‘Come down!'”
  • Our agenda is most important: “I didn’t really care about the people at the ground, I just cared about myself.”
  • If you don’t see any tangible hurt, there is zero hurt: “Some people were really angry, but I don’t care because I didn’t destroy anything. I didn’t hurt anyone.”

What would it mean to explore this type of a video or these talking points with your students, families and leaders?

I sense that every hot topics boils down to broken thoughts like these.

2 Corinthians 10:5 reveals:

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Notice that it says we are to eliminate the arguments and pretensions and not attack people.

If we don’t, we’re merely furthering the brokenness with our own self-righteous version of it.

worldevents2Honestly, I struggle with a lot of the headlines in our world. I feel that certain dangers are more imminent than others…that some topics are more personal than others…that some political candidates feel more ridiculous than others. I could easily tell you what these are and get you to try to think like me.


I can take you and students to the brokenness and ask, “What are they REALLY talking about?”

Another teen asked me recently why certain things in our world become laws or acceptable when they are clearly not lawful or acceptable before God. We chatted about why he felt they were that way – specifically, did he just feel differently or was there something clear from our Creator or creation itself that revealed a deeper reality? We concluded that perhaps we allow things to happen in our culture from a mentality that says, “If I let you do your thing and don’t object to it, perhaps you’ll let me do my thing without objecting to it.”

Please tell me you see the short-sightedness of that.

worldview1As those who stand in this gap, we have the opportunity to turn everyday conversations into extraordinary moments of transformation. It requires being on this journey ourselves:

  • Who God is must shape who you think God is, which shapes your theology, which shapes your identity, which shapes your way of life, which shapes your urges/behaviors.
  • Or else… your urges/behaviors will shape your way of life, which shapes your identity, which shapes your theology, which shapes who you think God is, which keeps you from seeing God for who He is.

Which journey are you on? You can’t take students somewhere you haven’t yet been.

Colossians 4:5-6 says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt,so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Maybe it’s worth watching that video with your students and asking them what they notice about the climber. Did he really “not hurt anybody,” or is he being ignorant to how his actions will inspire others to do something similar?

Perhaps you want to go the other route and talk about the difference between starting with God in how we see the world versus starting with ourselves.

Either way, the next generation and those who care for them are on a journey through the raging waters of culture.

What are they REALLY talking about?

What do you think it means to add to the dry ground versus merely stir the waters up even more?

– Tony / @tonymyles

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From Controversies to Jesus-Centered ...

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