I’m taking a vacation this week, so I’ll have a collection of favorite posts about one topic that hits most college ministries… the Large Group Meeting! Whether you have a classic “sing-n-speak” or some twist on the all-come gathering, I hope you’ll find these useful.
One of the most important teaching steps college ministers can take is to define terms. Especially when it comes to exhorting students to “be” and “do” like Jesus, we’ve got to make sure they actually know what’s being said.
(Of course, that means the teacher has to know, too.)
Off the top of my head, here are some examples of terms that defy easy definition, either because it’s hard or because we (wrongly) think the meaning and application are “obvious”:
- “Judge” (as in, “Judge not…”)
- “Sexual Purity”
- “Church Involvement”
- “Confront” / “Hold accountable”
- “Commit” (as in, what it means to commit to do something)
- “Dying to yourself”
- “Accepting Jesus” / Converting / Becoming a Christian
- “Honoring your parents”
- “Being a good steward”
- “Shame” (as in, the difference between “good guilt” and “bad guilt”)
That’s just off the top of my head, although a couple of them stick out for me. In high school, a youth pastor hurtfully brushed me aside when I expressed that some people don’t know exactly what “gossip” consists of. And in college, it was really helpful (and guilt-relieving) to hear a speaker and a pastor (two different guys) share what “lust” really is – and what it isn’t.
Think about the most recent message your students heard: Was every exhortation fully defined?
And another thing…!
And there’s another area that could often use more definitions. Too often we ministers assume students understand the words they’re singing during our “praise and worship” times. Words like “Hallelujah” or “bless the Lord” or even “Jehovah” are sung… but how sure are we that students know what they’re singing?
Have you “vetted” the songs you use for potentially-unfamiliar words?
What about the concepts they’re singing? In this case, especially if you’re singing older hymns (even if they’re set to newer music), there may be concepts that should be explained… or else our students really aren’t praising at all during those moments, are they?
On a less urgent note, a third way to facilitate our students’ worship is to help them connect the concepts in songs to Scripture. Sadly, we can’t assume that even songs directly derived from the Bible are understood as such by our students.
Have you considered highlighting connected verses, either alongside the songs, or before/after certain songs are sung? Even if only one song is “amplified” in this way each week, your students’ worship would be awesomely deepened.
What’s more, you could even consider teaching on the songs you regularly use in worship – either from the stage, in a series of emails, or by other means. How cool would that be?!