For the people of Israel, the ten commandments were the foundation of their ethics. As they moved into the promised land, understanding the commandments was essential for them to maintain the conduct that would show the world what God was like. Teenagers are bombarded with images and messages that challenge the ethics of scripture. Teens are also in a transitional moment, as they are on the cusp of becoming adults. Thus, teaching the commandments to children is important for them to maintain the conduct as adults that shows the world what God is like.
Translate Them to be Teen-Friendly
Make the wording of the commands relevant. Teaching the Bible to children utilizing unfamiliar words is self-defeating. It requires them to learn vocabulary, as well as learn the Bible. Though it is not beneficial to compromise the meaning of scripture by retranslating it, translating words to maintain meaning is possible and helpful. For example, instead of teaching "do not covet," teach your students to "be happy with what you have." This translation maintains the meaning of the commandment but makes it more comprehensible to teens.
Allow your students to discuss the relevance of the commands. Teens do not respond well to being talked down to, or to being forbidden from asking questions. At this transitional point in their lives, it is healthy for youth to question. Instead of trying to stop this, embrace their questions and guide them toward the understanding you have found. Ask questions to provoke healthy dialogue. For example, with the first commandment, ask them what they think it means to worship other gods. What are examples of some modern gods? After they share their opinions, you can share your perspective in a way that doesn't negate their thoughts but provides them direction.
Watch Movies That Illustrate Commands
Watch and discuss a movie that illustrates one of the commandments. Watching a movie is risky, but can be rewarding. Always screen the movie before showing it to teens; if the movie is subpar, your discussion will suffer, but a quality movie can serve as a springboard for healthy discussion. Youth are more visual than adults, and thus watching and discussing a movie is more likely to be relevant than reading a book. (See Resources for a few movie options.)
Utilize Case Scenarios
Create case scenarios that illustrate tension in the commands. Case scenarios do a good job of provoking dialogue because teens are more comfortable talking about other people's issues than their own. A good case scenario illustrates a situation in which a commandment comes into tension with real life. This activity is really effective if you have a more mature group.
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