One of the best ways to help kids and teens understand what God’s principles and commands look like when lived in our world today is by sharing faith stories.
Often when people are brought in to share their faith stories with kids and teens, their stories are cautionary tales. In an attempt to discourage Bible students from sinning, young adults are brought in to share all of the negative consequences they experienced when they sinned.
What is often lacking are the stories of people who did their best to obey God as teens and young adults. They weren’t perfect, but in general they were faithful to God. They managed to avoid the sins that commonly tempt young people. They were able to have lots of fun, make plenty of friends and find success in school and life without rejecting God or enmeshing themselves in sinful choices.
These positive examples are helpful in several ways. First, they reassure similar teens that they are not alone in their attempts to be who God wants them to be. Satan works extra hard to make godly young people feel isolated and alone. Knowing that other young people navigated their teen and young adult years successfully while being faithful Christians can help.
Positive faith stories can also help by giving teens lots of practical strategies for being successful themselves. Often people who made mistakes as young people only know to tell teens to avoid making the same mistakes. They may have no real practical strategies to share with teens to help them avoid similar fates.
Those who successfully avoided common sins, probably have strategies that helped them avoid sinning when tempted. They may even have suggestions for avoiding some common temptations entirely.
Finally, positive faith stories can encourage kids who are struggling with temptation. Hearing how someone their age was tempted, but was able to resist a particular sin can let them know it is not a foregone conclusion they will commit those sins. Too many adult Christians make it sound as if all young people reject God and live several years enmeshed in sin. When that assumption is shared with young people, teens who are struggling to obey God may stop trying.
Having young adults come in to your Bible class to share their personal faith stories can be a valuable resource. Just make sure that you balance cautionary tales with positive stories. It gives your Bible students more opportunities to hear something that will resonate with them.