rebelling against low expectations

Operation Sunday School: Let’s Take The Rebelution To Church


Are you tired of Sunday School? You’re not the only teen who feels that way. You might sit there thinking about what you need to do that week, or about what you want to talk about with your friends later.

But let me ask you a question, what would happen if we would talk to our teachers about a getting new Sunday School books? Something that’s going to make us better and prepare for what life is going to throw at us.

So here’s my idea: Why don’t we study Do Hard Things and Start Here for Sunday School or youth group? Or maybe some apologetics curriculum like ABC: Sunday School by Ken Ham? Not only would we be able to stand for the truth, but we could be a stronger next generation.

I started reading Do Hard Things and I think reading it for Sunday School or youth group would make a great start to changing our generation. Not only would Sunday school be interesting again but it would give us something to look forward to each week.

What do you think? Would you join me in talking to your Sunday School teacher or youth pastor about studying Do Hard Things together? Who knows what could happen.

Note from Brett: We loved Matthew’s project idea and want to help make it happen. However, we should clarify that we do not recommend replacing the study of God’s Word with the study of our books. If you are in a church that expects you to wrestle with God’s Word in Sunday School, then more power to you. Stay the course. You’re on the right track.

At the same time, we also know that low expectations for teens are common in many churches. There are many Sunday Schools and youth groups where Do Hard Things would a step towards more serious study of God’s Word. Those are the type of situations where we would recommend speaking with your youth pastor. We’ve found that many youth pastors are as frustrated with the low expectations as anyone, but don’t always know how to change the mindset of their students. Do Hard Things could be a great resource them.

If that’s your situation, here’s a few tips for talking with your youth pastor or Sunday School teacher:

  • If they are not familiar with Do Hard Things let them know that it is one of the bestselling Youth Ministry titles of the last decade with nearly 500,000 copies sold and has been endorsed by men like Chuck Colson, John Piper, and Chuck Norris.
  • Let them know that offers case orders on a Pay-What-You-Can basis, meaning that your church can purchase books for whatever price they can afford. This will be way less expensive than any other book study. They can find out more about it on our Group Orders page.
  • Tell them that each book comes with a built-in study guide with discussion questions. And there’s a free video series that comes with small group guides, message notes, and artwork — all available online through They can preview the videos here.
  • Finally, be sure to let them know how Do Hard Things has impacted your life personally.

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About the author

Matthew Wenger

is a 14-year-old homeschooler who lives on a ranch in Pennsylvania. Last year he moved to a new area and started attending a different church where, to be honest, Sunday School wasn't very interesting. He recently started reading Do Hard Things and was inspired to submit this project.


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  • Besides the Bible, Do hard Things is my absolute favorite book! It is thought provoking, entertaining, challenging, and encouraging.
    However, I would be hasitent to replace studying the Bible for studying Do Hard Things. And yet, on the other hand, Do Hard Things is a Christian book, developed by very strong Christians. In addition, if the teens go to both Sunday School and Church, they will still get direct teaching from the Bible while studying Do Hard Things.

    I am not against Do Hard Things being taught in Sunday School, but yet, I am not sure if it would be worth switching from the Bible.

    Then again, because Do Hard Things is so compelling to read, maybe it would spark more interest in the class participants then a normal Sunday School curriculum would. If you would expand on this, Matthew or Brett, I would be very appreciative.

    Thanks and God bless,
    – Trent

    • Thank you for bringing this up, Trent.

      When I received Matthew’s project idea I was excited because I know that low expectations for teens are prevalent inside the church as well as outside. I was thinking of churches where young people are fed spiritual milk instead of spiritual meat.

      And I was thinking of the stories I’ve heard from pastors and youth pastors who have used our book to transition their youth ministries into more serious programs where doctrine and service are the focus, rather than entertainment.

      However, I should also have been thinking of the many churches where high expectations and spiritual meat are being fed to the young people already. In those cases Do Hard Things would most certainly be a step down, not a step up — and I would not want them to study Do Hard Things instead.

      So in conclusion, I would never advocate replacing the Bible with Do Hard Things in a youth group or Sunday School setting. However, if any young person is part of a church where Christian books are being studied and where they feel expectations could be higher, I would hope that Do Hard Things could be a spark that helps show pastors and students alike that young people are capable of far more and can be taught to wrestle with God’s Word in a more serious way.

      Does that make sense? Thank you again for being wiling to bring this up. It is an extremely important clarification that needed to be made.

  • Love the idea. My brother’s class is reading it at school as part of devotions. I did the same in Jr. High and that’s what’s gotten me going. I’ve also used the modesty survey to talk to girls at school about following the school dress code and why we are modest. Its such a useful tool. I’m a PK and my mom runs Sunday School so I know how hard it is to find a good program. The Bible is great so doing Do Hard Things along side it is a wonderful idea. Hey, Jesus did hard things! I’ll mention it to my mom (looking for a youth program since there are three that attend youth group: my brother, his friend, and myself).

    Just had an idea though. I love the idea with youth but I know at our church we are looking to see what our purpose is. I know Do Hard Things is about teens rising up but wouldn’t it be cool if the church, not just us, rose up? Most people go to pretty big churches and have resources available where we are lucky to have shingles on the roof (took a year to fundraise that) yet, it’s full of people that are on fire and wanting to do something. Hmmmm…. now the ideas are coming. Thanks for this post!

    • Hi Hana!

      I have been looking for the modesty survey results for several weeks to be able to re-read them and look them over but I cannot find them. Are they still accessible on the website?

      • Hi Anna lysa,

        I have not been able to find the modesty survey results. I found the post but could not access the results. Brett, do you know?

        God bless,

          • I can’t speak for Brett, but all the links I can find lead to a 404 (webpage not found). I’m pretty sure it got taken down. It’s not as easy to find as it was a few months ago, anyway.

  • I totally agree that this should happen!

    Although I never went to Sunday School after 2st grade and have never gone to a youth group in all my life, I still think those who do should totally consider making this offer to our youth leaders.

    Let do another hard thing and try to get this into the Church!

    God Bless,


  • Yes!!!

    I have had such a struggle with this since I moved up to the youth level in Sunday School at our church. I stayed in the class for about a year and a half and got really tired of no one paying attention and the lesson material not being in depth that I decided that I would help in the two’s and three’s class during Sunday School. I have learned a lot in the area of how to teach kids and sometimes my mom will come in as a replacement for the main teacher (who is a wonderful older woman who loves the kids and loves God). My mom has taught kids all throughout her adult/older teen life and I have learned a lot from her.

    I think that if our youth ministry would start doing something like this, I would be all into it and would love to go to youth group. Granted, I haven’t been down since they got new teachers, and I am thinking about going in a few weeks to see what it’s like, but I really want something more – I am so glad I’m not alone in this.

    Just tonight, I found out that I might be able to be in charge of the Operation Christmas Child program at our church – please pray that if this is a door that God wants me to go through that it will work out. Thanks!

    Thank you so much for encouraging so many of us, Matthew! 🙂 This post has definitely inspired me!!!

    God bless,


  • Last year, my youth group had the privilege of going through Do Hard Things. This book, website, and conversations that I run across among young people have been very helpful and inspirational to me. I am also thankful that the church that I attend is quite grounded in teaching the word each and every Sunday to us young people. However, I understand that many young people do not have this privilege and that studying these books would be a wonderful thing to do. Anyway, long thought process, but this is a great idea!

  • Hmm. If my youth group can study a Christian movie, I think it could be even better to study this book. It is one of my favorites. Would it be necessary for everyone to read it, or could it simply be referenced? Right now our church has exactly 4 copies of Do Hard Things and about 20 regular attenders.

    • I have read Do Hard Things too, at last i am part way into it. I agree that i would be amAZing if our youth group could beging going through that book. we switch out our study book about every month or two, and im going to suggest that book for next time. Please respond and tell me your thoughts 😉

        • I completely agree. This will seem a bit random…..but have you or others on here ever heard of the “Feed My Starving Children” program?

          • Also, for those that have not heard of the “Feed My Starving Children” program, it travels nationwide and sets up at local schools. It gathers volunteers who help mass-product bags of food mix: vitamins, veggies, soy, and rice all freeze dried. Then missionaries take boxes of the mixture to Africa in poor villages. All they need is a bag, and hot water, and then a cup and they have a healthy rice cup a day that will sustain them easily. I just came back from a shift of it, actually. My entire youth group git to go!!! Great experience!! In the 2 and 1/2 hours that you work, you pack 90-130 THOUSAND boxes: each one containing 32 bags of food. It is a great way to help make a chang in the world

          • I want to change what i said, when i said it goes to kids in africa. it actually goes everywhere!!! africa, central america, south america, and i believe some places in the middle east. over the course of about 1 week, we packed 1 MILLION meals. this should sustain 2750 kids for one whole year. and thats only what we did this week! this program goes nationwide in america. if you are in the states, you should try to participate next time it comes through

  • The thing about Do Hard Things is, the message in itself is so biblical. That’s the best part about it. I’m currently studying the book with a ministry I’m involved in called BreakDown STL, and as we read through it, we discuss specific Bible verses that apply to various quotes and passages in Do Hard Things. As a result, we’re able to dig into God’s message as well as Do Hard Things at the same time. I’m only 5 chapters in, and the whole experience has already been unbelievably encouraging and thought provoking. My point is, introducing Do Hard Things in a church setting doesn’t have to mean replacing the Bible, but as Brett says below, it’s an excellent transition into the word of God.

  • Myself ( a youth leader) and the Associate Pastor of my church have been talking about teaching the principals behind your book, we feel that in order to make disciples in Christ our kids need to be prepared to do hard things. I think that it could be a great outreach series ” hey we’re learning how as teens we can change our generation tonight, do you want to come?” that sounds a lot better then hey do you want to come to my youth group tonight? don’t get me wrong we need scripture to back it up but i think its a great idea for a 3 or 4 lesson series. how would you suggest teaching it?

  • I am looking for practical tips about how one would best use the Do Hard Things series in a group situation. Our group is less than 25 middle & high school students. How would one best lead the group? Does every person need their own book copy? Would we read it aloud to ensure everyone heard it? Has anyone used the audio recordings “live” in a group setting with the book in hand? Doing a “book study” will be new for us (as we previously use video driven, or self-taught material).

By Matthew Wenger
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →