This week in ignition we are starting a brand new series that will span 90% of our summer. I am so excited about the message of hope and truth that it brings as it weaves together the entire Bible along a continuum of God's undying and immeasurable love for us. Take a look below at some thoughts, ideas and great questions below and dive in with your student as we take this important journey this summer!
I also invite you to take a few minutes to watch this video. Initially designed to prepare the presenter, it give you as parents a really clear picture of where we are going over these next several weeks.
Be a Student of What They are Learning
The Bible is a big story. It’s the story of the beginning. It’s the story of God’s people. It’s the story of a great rescue. And, ultimately, it’s the story of you and me—and the love God has for His people. Each part of God’s story is richly connected to the next and has something to say to every one of us. So, let’s take a journey through the story and discover a God who has something to say to us, here and now, through a story that started “In the beginning.”
Be a Student of Your Student
Have you ever noticed how a good movie or book can draw you in? How it can offer you something unique? Something big? Something more? A good story has the ability to make you feel connected to something bigger than yourself. Whether it’s a true story of someone else’s struggle or a comedy cataloging the silly antics of a make-believe character, a good story allows us to both escape reality and capture it at the same time. This is true for adults and for our students. It’s why so many teenagers flock to see the latest Twilight or Hunger Games movie.
As one Relevant Magazine article puts it:
To get right down to it, stories like Star Wars illustrate the deep longings of humankind …
You might even say that in these stories we find a piece of ourselves—we find something to identify with that makes us feel like we can know ourselves a little bit better. An excerpt from a recent Psychology Today article pinpoints exactly what this looks like for teenagers:
Psychologists such as Dan McAdams (The Stories We Live By) argue that identity is inherently narrative. Fundamental questions such as “Who am I?” are answered through the stories we [speak] out about ourselves. Stories about our struggles, our triumphs, our loves, and our hates combine into the sum total of our sense of self. For most people, these identity stories really emerge in adolescence. Certainly younger children tell stories, but their stories tend to be loose and episodic. In adolescence, people start trying to tell stories that put all the pieces of what they do and think together into a more or less coherent whole.
One of the things I was doing in early adolescence was reading Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It immersed me in a strange world that only vaguely mirrored my own, yet the archetypal motifs of the quest, wisdom, heroism, and evil were instantly familiar. Tolkien transformed these motifs into a series of tales that idealized friendship, loyalty, endurance, sacrifice and compassion, and these themes were woven into my identity.
Books, movies, music, television shows—the things of culture—matter to students, because they identify a piece of themselves in the stories being told. They feel connected to something bigger while simultaneously discovering something more about themselves. And we, as parents, have the potential to tap into that—not only to learn about our students, but teach them a bit about ourselves as well. When we learn about the stories that matter to them and share our own stories, we grow in understanding and this gives us amazing relational leverage.
Here are two opportunities for you to connect with your student around this idea of story and identity. You can choose whichever one feels the most comfortable for you, or find time to do both.
Option A: Find out from your student what their favorite movie is and then sit down and watch it together. After the movie, take some time to talk about some of the themes that were present (good versus evil, brokenness and redemption, good choices versus bad choices, etc.) and then ask your student why they like that particular movie. What connects with them the most? What do they feel when they watch it? You can make this conversation casual and comfortable. Don’t force it, or it might start to feel like another homework assignment. The goal is to simply have a dialogue with your student to discover more about who they are and give them a chance to share their favorite story with you.
Option B: Just as learning about oneself through stories is an important process of adolescence, so is learning about the story of our parents. Take some time t
o share your own story with your son or daughter. When did you first discover how much God loved you? When did you make a decision to follow Jesus? Who or what played a role in that decision? Share about your faith journey so that your student can begin to understand your story as an important part of their own.
Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.