Last summer, my friend Michelle asked me if I would teach her theology. Here’s a little background on Michelle. She’s 15 years old, in high school, navigating tricky relationships with friends, and wrestling through her convictions on any given day when faced with the pressures of teenage life. I was impressed by her interest, but I didn’t really pursue her at first. Honestly, I didn’t think she was serious or would be committed. But she kept pushing it.
I said “yes.” But on the condition that she sign a discipleship covenant. In summary, the covenant declared that Michelle would:
- Read the book Theology.
- Read the book of Galatians.
- Meet with me six times to discuss readings.
- Write a report on a theologian (choosing from Athanasius, Augustine, Calvin, Arminius, Luther, or Lewis)
She had to complete all of this according to a 3-month timeline.
The covenant further committed me to the following:
- To read Theology and Galatians with Michelle.
- To meet with Michelle 6 times to discuss readings.
- To pray for Michelle regularly.
- To send Michelle regular encouragement.
- To help Michelle select a theologian she might find interesting.
The covenant required 4 signatures- Michelle, me, her mom, and her student pastor.
We laughed; we prayed; we talked about the tensions between the Swiss Reformers, German Reformers, and English Reformers; we talked about friends; we wrestled through issues of faith and science; we talked about boys; we explored how the Bible came to be; we talked about fashion; we tried to grasp the mysteries of the Trinity and the final judgment…we wove theology into the fabric of life to discover answers to two questions: How can we worship God more? How might I live my life differently?
A couple thoughts about discipling teenagers:
- Give them credit. A lot more credit than you think you should. And set a high goal for them to accomplish.
- Put a timeline on it.
- Ask them to commit. Draft a covenant and have them sign it so there are clear expectations.
- Involve others- parents, friends, student pastors, small group leaders, etc.
- Celebrate- about 2/3 of the way into our study, I told Michelle that we would do something fun together if she finished. I’ll cover that in the next post.