“Hey, Curtis volunteered to teach class for me next week. I said ok. Is that alright?”
Before I say anything about Curtis, I need to say this: People who VOLUNTEER to teach teenage Bible classes are an endangered species. They seriously need to be protected by the government, and Public Service Announcements should be made to teach us how to preserve them. Like the Dodo bird and pterodactyl, they will soon only live in textbooks, museums, and our imaginations. So if you see one sometime soon, get a selfie together – it might be your last chance.
As much as I desire volunteers to teach teens, when Ben told me about Curtis, my immediate feeling was one of uncertainty. I thought, “Curtis has never taught teens before. In fact, I don’t know if Curtis has taught any age before. What if it doesn’t go well and he gets discouraged?” And yes, I was a little nervous because Curtis himself is a teen.
That’s right. A teenager volunteered to teach the teenage class. Then I thought, “Ben’s pretty smart. This could be a very good thing.” Now feeling a mix of uncertainty and excitement, I coolly replied to Ben, “That should be fine. I might sit in just in case he needs a little assistance.”
On the following Sunday, Curtis was in the classroom well in advance of everyone else. He didn’t seem nervous at all. That’s because he was prepared to teach. He had studied. He had his Bible, a book for the class, and notes he had taken on his own. I was impressed. Nonetheless I sat as a student in the teenage class . . . you know, just in case.
From the moment class began, Curtis was in control. The topic was “The Light of the World.” Curtis had students – his fellow teenagers – read Bible passages. He provided practical applications and good examples. He asked probing questions. And that’s where I was most impressed. When Curtis asked questions, guess what? The students answered! But they didn’t just answer with pious platitudes. They got real. They talked about when, how, and why they struggle to consistently be lights in the world. And some expressed regret about how they hadn’t always been light before others. I was humbled because I wasn’t so spiritually honest as a teenager and sometimes not even today as an adult. I was also jealous because, as a Bible class teacher of adults, I wish I could get them to have as authentic of a conversation with each other as the teens were having.
I participated as a student in the class too – not because they needed me, but because I needed them and the blessing of such an encouraging environment.
The Bible says, “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger” (Psalm 8:2). I witnessed teenagers still the enemy on that Sunday morning.
Many churches and homes right now are struggling with how to get their children and teens more interested in church. We can start by having them step up and serve like Curtis did, proving that they have something to contribute right now. We can also learn to be authentic with our own faith instead of putting up the façade that our spiritual walk comes easy.
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). To Curtis and the class, thank you for setting an example to me. To Ben, thanks for encouraging Curtis. To all of us, maybe we need to be blessed and be a blessing by giving greater attention to our youth and following their example.
And church family, if you see Curtis sometime soon, get a selfie together – he’s a rare breed.