What's the point?
Updated: Aug 22, 2020
By David Shipley
In a vivid and exasperated tone of voice, one of the high school seniors in our youth group states: “Students and teachers at school can be frustrating, the system doesn’t prepare me for life & I just can’t wait to be done. There’s no point.”
About a year ago, I sat down with this student, a junior at the time. He hosted a weekly Bible study for fellow students at his parents' house. Recently, he’d hosted nearly twenty students (most not currently attending a church).
So I sat down with him at a local coffee shop to get the scoop. (I got the metaphorical scoop. No ice cream was harmed in the making of this interview; we skipped the special on affogato the coffee shop was running at the time).
So why does a Junior with senioritis, who sees no point in being in school any longer than he must, invite students from school into his home? There must be some point to it all. Read this short interview and be inspired:
“This is the tension we live with as followers of Jesus. We are thrilled to know Jesus and be saved from God's wrath, yet we are burdened for our loved ones who don't know Him.” -Francis Chan, Erasing Hell
The young man I interviewed was buried with Christ in baptism in the 8th grade. However, he was shaken by the severity of eternity as a freshman. He recognized he needed, in his words, to stop taking in the teachings of Jesus intravenously and begin actively feeding himself, and others. With an exasperated look on his face, he said to me, “Why? Why am I just sitting here?” The severity of eternity, and the truth of Jesus' resurrection, gave him a hope, and a burden, for his friends.
And so, in his parents’ basement, this young man fixed food, made sure the guys sat on the floor so the ladies could have a chair or sofa (who says chivalry is dead), and facilitated a Bible study filled with discussion.
Their format was simple:
He began by asking everyone to share what they were thankful for, or something they were struggling with, or a prayer request. Then, they turned to a passage in the Bible, read the passage & commented on what stood out to them or caught their attention. Someone also had to restate the words of Scripture in their own words. If you were summarizing this to a friend and didn't have the text in front of you, what would you tell them happened and what was the main point? Then, they took turns answering question like: >Who first heard this teaching or story? >What does this passage say about God? >What does this passage say about People? And, in the true spiritual response to the warning that faith without works is dead, they ended by sharing an “I will” statement prompted by this passage.
This young man’s in-home Bible study grew out of a previous Bible study that ran into some insurmountable doctrinal differences. Those things happen in small group studies and it's not always bad when they happen. But it can be frustrating and painful. That's another blog post for another time.
Before his current study included twenty pairs of shoes, however, they faced a crisis of group identity. When the previous study died, this new study was born to generate outreach. Over time, however, it got to where it only involved regulars.
What our young man said was stark, but in his typical blunt force trauma fashion, he declared to some of his friends “Don’t come next week unless you’ve invited someone.” Understandably, some responded by asking, “But what if I can’t?”
To which Mr. Relentless (who aspires to be Mr. Steadfast) replied, “Come on, how many hundreds of people are at school? Just invite someone new.”
Perhaps this isn't the tactic that is advisable every time. But in this case, everyone took the challenge. And the group doubled and next week there were twenty pairs of shoes.
More significantly than the number of attendees, however, was one student in particular. One of the students our young man invited (because a small group leader can’t issue a challenge they're not willing to fulfill themselves) thanked him later because they didn’t grow up around church or the Bible. They wanted to know God but had no idea where to start.
And that's the point.
Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus is incredibly familiar to many Christians. But there are many who don't know where to start. Our Junior with Senioritis listened to his own challenge, made an invitation, and found someone hungry to seek God.
...More On THE Point
Students, and adults, are looking for a message that's grounded in something deeper than pop-culture, political correctness or opinion. These students, who will one day become teachers, scientists, engineers, builders, mothers and fathers, architects and accountants, care about questions like "How did I get here? Why am I here? What's the point of this all anyway?" The point is there are students who want to be better and are willing to set aside opinions to hear the authority of Scripture.
At some point, we’ll be able to leave our home and meet in larger and larger groups. Many of us hunger not just for fellowship, but also for good discussions about truth and hope and how to live right. Let’s be open to making and receiving those invitations.
Also, I learned something from this student about how to lead a simple Bible discussion. I hope this interview helps those contemplating the same to have an idea of where to start.
Thanks for reading.