This July, I’ll be leading a group of high school students and leaders from Grace Fellowship Church on a brand new experience. We’re calling it the Worldview Road Trip, and it’s designed to equip students to think Christianly about every single area of life. One topic we plan to cover is economics. We want students to know the central components of a Christian worldview and how they inform our views on poverty, money, the economy, free markets, and more. As we’ve been creating an outline for this training session, I’ve identified several key theological issues that are especially relevant to this topic:
The Image of God
Fallen Human Nature
The Nature of Marriage and Family
Self-governance and Personal Responsibility
The Role of the Family
The Role of the Church
And here are the key questions regarding economics that emerge from our theological reflections:
How does the Imago Dei inform our view of human activity? Why is man a creator, not merely consumer?
How does fallen human nature inform our views about economics, markets, and human interaction in these arenas? How do various economic systems take into account, or ignore, our sinful and selfish nature? How might a free-market economy hold human nature in check and create accountability?
What is “sphere sovereignty,” and how does this idea emerge in Scripture (e.g., Paul telling us that “if a man will not work, he shall not eat” in 2 Thess. 3:10)? Who is primarily responsible for taking care of us?
Is there a distinction between self-interest and selfishness? How does appropriate self-interest inform our economic views?
What should our approach be to the poor? How does our view of human nature inform our approach? How are free markets effective tools in fighting poverty in the world?
How does God’s design for the family protect people from poverty (e.g., looking at how single parenting greatly increases chances of poverty and how married men with children are the most productive members of society)?
What is man’s fundamental problem and need according to Scripture? How do we prioritize issues like poverty in light of the primacy of the Gospel (e.g., do people need wealth or Jesus more? Are we focusing more on social justice issues or the cross of Christ?)
How would you answer these questions? We will equip students to see how the Christian worldview has tremendous insight into these topics. If you haven’t given this much thought, let me pass along some of the great resources we’re using to prepare this training session. You may find them helpful as you too think Christianly about all of life.
When you're teaching, whether it's apologetics or any other topic, it's not just the information but also the presentation that counts. You may be able to dump theological knowledge on your audience, but that doesn't mean it will stick and have the impact you're hoping for, so you've got to work on your presentation skills too. This is especially important with youth audiences.
When I'm asked for advice on teaching youth, here are some of my suggestions:
Have a strong opener for your talk: Use stories, object lessons, and illustrations to draw them in, gain their attention, and earn their trust. And get into it quickly. Don't waste time with filler (e.g. "Glad to be here with all of you…").
Cut content to the most essential elements: Often you have such limited teaching time (30-40 minutes), so make sure you're focusing on the most essential material for each topic. Avoid an "information dump" where you regurgitate every single aspect you've studied. You may study hours upon hours for a single talk, but you'll need to boil it down to the key ideas and arguments for your audience.
Illustrate, illustrate, illustrate: As you explain spiritual truths and abstract concepts, you will need to illustrate these for your audience. For example, we use the ice cream/medicine illustration to explain objective/subjective truth. In addition, I created a "Truth Test" years ago to further illustrate the distinction between the two.
Close your talks with ways that hit home: Show your audience how ideas have consequences. Illustrate how what you've taught plays out in real life. Use powerful stories to close. Help them see the relevance of your teaching to life. This will help give your talks a strong finish.
Hang out with your audience: If I'm speaking to a group I don't know, I will take the initiative to get to know my audience (as much as possible) beforehand. Greet people as they come in, walk around, introduce yourself, ask questions and mingle with them as they wait for the event to begin. If I'm at a camp or conference, I'll try to have meals with them and even participate in some of the camp activities with them. And afterwards, make yourself available for further questions and interactions. I typically try to be one of the last to leave the event. All of this will help the audience connect with you personally and, therefore, help them connect with your teaching at a deeper level.
If you do a lot of teaching, I suggest you get a copy of Timothy Koegel's book, The Exceptional Presenter. You'll benefit from it tremendously and so will your audience.