Exploring Hot Topics through the Lens of Scripture
My supervisor and I grew increasingly enthusiastic this morning as we planned ahead to the January Leadership Training Summit. We were specifically discussing the possible “hot topic” electives we would like to offer this year. I commented to Rachel Shively, the director of the 4.12 Leadership Training Program, “I love how these electives have developed through the years.”
4.12 Leadership Training Program students attend three training summits during the year. The September summit (which recently took place) primarily focuses on getting the students off to a strong start for the program year, including preparing them for their level projects. The June summit prepares the students for their summer camp ministry and more. The January summit has varied through the years, but three years ago, former 4.12 Leadership Training Program director Nate Marshall and I came up with the idea of adding “hot topic” electives to the weekend. We would bring in guest speakers to address, from a biblical point of view, issues that are getting a lot of attention in the world around us. Students could choose two of the four electives offered.
Level 3 student Faith Dickerson explains the benefits well: “I believe the guest speaker electives are great for 4.12 students because we aren’t narrowed down to one subject, but are able to choose what directly applies to our lives or what interests us,” she states. “And by having these speakers come in and share with us about the topic we choose, we get to hear a different, biblical perspective on the world, which helps us grow. It also helps to know what to do and say in our own lives when we run across these topics or issues.”
Parents appreciate the electives too. “Adolescents in the 4.12 program are on the cusp of adulthood and need practical, relevant introduction to hot-topic issues that are frequently talked about in our culture,” says Beth Mertz, whose three sons are in the 4.12 program. “Too often, the ‘church’ and even Christian parents, shy away from such issues. I appreciate that Joy El leadership is taking intentional steps to introduce issues to students, considering the truth of Scripture, so that these topics can be discussed within the framework of a Christian worldview, rather than through the lens of popular culture. After one such presentation, I had the privilege of talking with my son about an issue that I have previously never discussed in depth with him. I was so thankful that Joy El started the conversation, and I could pick up the topic on the drive home from camp.”
Rachel’s and my enthusiasm this morning built as we continued to refine our topic ideas, possible speakers, and how the hot topics will fit into our overall January theme of identity in Christ. We came up with excellent speaker possibilities and very relevant topics that strongly influence how we view ourselves as God’s children.
Please pray for us as we confirm speakers and promote the sessions to students. Pray for speakers as they prepare and for students to choose the electives that will most impact them. Pray for parents as they guide their teens, choosing to opt their child out of a session if they must, as well as following up through valuable discussion after the seminars. Pray for God to work as we equip teachable students in their biblical worldview and identity in Christ.