RACHEL T. WRITES: What should we do if our peers aren’t keen on talking more about Jesus and life because they think it’s something deep? And how should we respond if they claim to have no opinions about it? When is the best time to start thinking about and discussing these topics? If we’re not ready to talk about “deep” subjects now, when will we be ready and how would we even know?
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Hmmmmm. That’s a hard one. It’s always awkward to start a deep talk but then it is so amazing when it happens. The teens I know are all weird (like not average teens) cause we have deep talks about Christ everyday. I even have a science project where I have to share how deep my roots go in God. It makes you vulnerable. I think that is why a lot don’t like to share these things. People find out what is really going on and suddenly the mask they have put on is thrown off. Even for myself, to share even the best things that God has done for me can be hard. I have found though, that when we learn the truth about each other and have those deep talks, we become closer as a family and we support each other. But it takes a while for them to trust that you won’t share everything to the world. Pray. That’s the best we can do. Pray for the opportunity and the wisdom for when it does come.
I’ve been asking this question for a long time. I’ve seen it in my own life, and it’s been a process for God to help me to be bolder in talking about spiritual things with my friends.
Sam brought up a really good point. Teens aren’t really against talking about Jesus, per se, it’s just… uncomfortable. For some, this is because they don’t think about Jesus all that much. For many youth in the Church, though, I think it’s moreso because Jesus is usually thought of as a personal topic. Your relationship with God is for when you’re by yourself. Sharing personal things is… well… weird. It’s privatized by our culture, actually.
Not just the personal things, but even doctrine itself. This fits into our culture’s low expectations well; we don’t talk about spiritual matters because that’s what adults do, and we’re just not ready for that kind of maturity. Or like what Sam said, we’re mature enough, but we think others wouldn’t be comfortable with it. They might think we’re trying to be super-spiritual or “holier than thou.”
For an individual, talking about Christ with your friends seems a bit strange. It may sound odd coming off the tongue. But I can tell you, it’s one of the most rewarding things you’ll find. It’s the only way you’ll build lasting, strong, fruitful friendships that continue beyond high-school and college. It’s real fellowship in action.
I can understand deeper friendships are made when talking about God to your friends. I talked with a friend about the differences between our beliefs. I felt…freer about talking about Jesus. This has lead me to believe that as Christians, we aren’t just commanded by God to tell others about Him; we were created to.
I’ve always wondered the same thing. I think is because teens don’t want to step out of their comfort zone and be a little ” Strange ” for God.
But we should always remember what Paul says. ” If we are fools, we are fools for Christ.”
I think that teens, in general, want to be taken seriously. They want to hear ideas; sure, they have a sinful nature inherited from Adam the same as anyone else. If the Spirit is working in them, then they will be seeking. This brings me to a point that my brother, Lane Keister, has brought up. He read your book Do Hard Things, and thought it was a great and much-needed book. He thinks you should do a follow-up book called Think Hard Things, about the importance of avoiding anti-intellectualism; but note that the opposite of being anti-intellectual, for the Christian, is not being an intellectual, but being a Christian thinker.
Keep up the good work, and fight the good fight!
What happened to the forum’s?
I already for into the forum’s, I just can’t find them anywhere on this site.
This is a great discussion question. It seems to me that the problem isn’t so much one of being capable of discussing spiritual things and spiritual life, as it is one of just doing it. I’m like some kind of weirdo theologian-in-training; I love spending time studying the complexities of God. I am naturally a very abstract, “deep” thinker. As a result, I love few things more than having a meaningful discussion with my peers about God. And when we get together for the purpose of having such discussions (e.g. youth group, small groups, etc.), we have great discussions. The problem is, people aren’t intentional enough about starting such conversations. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone. I want to talk to people about God, and I have no problem doing it, but I find it hard to find places to insert God into a conversation without the other people involved feeling suddenly awkward. We as teenagers seem to naturally avoid getting into “intellectual” topics because they feel weird to us. I think teenagers tend to enjoy really shallow conversation, because it’s so much more comfortable. We can chatter endlessly about the ultimately meaningless dramas of our own lives, but we just freeze up when we see an opportunity to turn the tide of a conversation from purely secular interests to meaningful discussion about God. I definitely think that’s something that’s been inspired by our culture. Teenagers are just expected to be shallow in their interests. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it becomes harmful if it prevents us from going deeper into the things of God even when that means stepping out of our comfort zone. I personally savor every opportunity to get into “deep” conversation. The problem isn’t being in the discussion; it’s getting into it in the first place.
At least, that’s my experience.
Yeah, I think I kind of have the same problem. I love deep conversations and really getting into who God is and what is going on in people’s lives, but I never know how to start the conversation and no one else is inclined to do it for me. I’m not a naturally social person so I have a hard time in random, shallow conversations, but I also know most people don’t just open up right after meeting you. I struggle through the “getting to know you” conversations and then either the relationship never developes or I get stuck at that level. I pulled out of my youth group for 5 years because I felt they were to shallow and unfocused, and now God has sent me back in there. Pretty much everyone I knew has graduated now and so it is pretty much a group of strangers who don’t have a clue who I am or know just enough about me that they know they have never had anything to say to me before and still don’t have anything to say. I have a hard time trying to figure out how to engage these people, yet without relationships there are no conversations of any kind and certainly none that push you closer to God. I can’t be a leader if I’m sitting alone on an island.
So yeah, I guess I say all of that not to be helpful in the least but just to say “ditto” which would have been a lot quicker to type and to read, wouldn’t it.
“Ditto” may be easier to type, but it’s good to share your heart. I totally understand where you’re coming from. I’m not an especially social person either. But I love deep discussions. It’s hard to talk about the things of God, the struggles in life, the things that really matter, when the people around you want to talk about, like, shoe fashion (OK, lame example, but I just mean really shallow things). But you also don’t want to look down on others because of that. Some of us are naturally wired to be into deep concepts and heavy discussions, but most people aren’t. That doesn’t make us any better than others, but it does make it tough for us in normal social situations. I think we need to work on finding ways to connect God to normal, day-to-day conversation in a way that doesn’t necessarily have to create some kind of massive subject change, but can turn the tide of a conversation. God works through our words, and if we do our best to direct people back to Him in conversation, He’ll help us to make smoother transitions from the mundane to the eternal and complex.
Wow. Thank you for that!! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one 🙂 And yes, I think you are right. It is hard sometimes, to stay humble and not judge other people. We are all sinners who need Jesus desperately. He loved everyone and we are to do the same.
And it seems that if our focus is on having our hearts in the right place, the connection back to God will be so natural. Maybe – just maybe – every conversation doesn’t have to be a deep theological study, yet if our lives are centered around God, whatever we talk about will reflect that, even if it does seem slightly silly. And I think that effort made to take time and connect with someone, to love them, God will honor that. Maybe that lame conversation will even open up a door to something bigger with that person down the road, just because we took the time to care and step down off our little pedistal (that we shouldn’t have been on in the first place!)
You definitely hit the nail on the head. I’ve had a hard time integrating Christ into everyday conversations with friends. Although really, we shouldn’t be integrating Christ into our conversations; it should be vice-versa.
Either way, conversations starters are a good “start” (get it?) to having rich, deep conversations. Sometimes you’ll find a nice segway into deep topics, but I wouldn’t just sit and wait for one to come. In fact, often times we see a nice segway, but don’t take it. We just need to be bold and bring up what’s weighing on us. With close friends, this can be easier. But still, things like “Hey, I came across this last week… What do you think about it?” can be enough to start something good. You can find your own, but the point is: don’t be afraid to bring it up off the bat. We do that for other things, why not spiritual ones?
I’ve been doing some of this very recently, and it has done very well. Better yet, once you do have a deep conversation, it’s a lot easier to bring up another one later. That’s just some practical advice for those who are struggling with it. Excellent comment!
You mentioned that trying to integrate Christ into our conversations is approaching the issue from the wrong direction. That really intrigues me! Could you please elaborate on that point? What do you see as being the fundamental difference between the two approaches?
Sure thing! Basically, I would equate the issue to a box. Integrating Christ into our conversations is like trying to put Christ into a bigger “box.” It makes our conversations the bigger issue, and we’re just trying to find a way to “fit Christ” into the “bigger box.” What should really happen is that Christ should be the “box,” and every other aspect of our lives should be placed in Him. Conversation is simply a method; Christ is the everything. And from there, this becomes so much more than about conversations. Everything else gets put into place when we realize that Christianity is not just an add-on, like spiritual sprinkles. It encompasses and impacts every aspect of life, because God created life – all of it.
I think talking about Jesus is too deep for teens because most teens live in the moment and never want to discuss things beyond the moment. This is what makes rebelutionaries so different, we want to discuss the deep things not ignore them.
A lot of people, not just teens, seem to avoid deep topics because it makes them uncomfortable. If someone doesn’t spend much time in the Word, doesn’t pray a lot (guilty of that one), isn’t proactive in helping the poor and needy, and doesn’t want to change their self-focused, cushy life-style, they won’t want to converse on topics that make them feel convicted.
If you’re peers aren’t interested in talking about deep subjects, I’d suggest a few things.
1. Be the initiator. Try to encourage conversation on important topics. Throw out conversation starters like the ones we’ve been discussing here. Ask your peers if they think it’s ever okay to lie. Or what books have most impacted them. Put some effort into bringing your conversation and that of your friend’s to an edifying place.
2. Actively seek out peers who will converse on deep topics. If you start talking about important subjects, other young people who want the same thing will quickly separate from the rest of the crowd. Nurture those friendships and treasure them. Peers who love you but love God more are the most valuable friends you can have.
3. Don’t just look to peers for conversation! We young people aren’t limited to interacting with other young people. Seek out Godly adults and talk to them. Many of them will be surprised at first, but they’ll be thrilled to find a young person who wants to grow in the Lord. Adults can make fantastic friends.
Is it possible to up-vote a comment 10 times? Excellent points, Leah!
Now a days Jesus is something that is often contained in the church. Anything that is pushing out of this new norm is resulted in discomfort or hate all around. This also has to do with teens talking about him. When teens get the chance to talk about this, peers will see this as a topic that should be talked about when they are older and more mature. Thinking that this will cause discomfort to the teen or themselves at the moment.
I feel sometimes as if our reluctance to enter these “deep” subjects is due to our desire not to get hurt. I try to engage in “deep” conversations with my friends sometimes, but am always pushed away. Not because they don’t trust me, but because if they engage in these “deep” conversations, then they no longer hold all of the power. These conversations show more of a teenager than we tend to expect. Actually having a discussion reveals so much, that it is almost a threat to enter into any meaningful conversation, no matter who it is with. It is much easier to say, “I don’t care.” or “I don’t know.” than it is to actually discuss what we think and feel on any given subject. I know that for myself, during my younger years, I really shut everyone out of my life, to protect myself. To make sure that I would never get hurt. Yet, I still got hurt. It became so much easier to just say, “I don’t know.” or “I don’t care.” because once either was said, the person seeking to discuss anything turned away and left. Once I became a Christian, I started realizing that these conversations are vital to truly healthy relationships. To people who don’t know how important “deep” conversations are to great relationships, the cost of losing control is simply to great a cost to sacrifice.
I know that for me, I am the only Christian in my group of friends. It is sometimes intimidating to share what I believe, because I know that these people have the greatest power to hurt me. The one thing that I have found is that, Jesus needs to be EVERYTHING for me. Since he is everything, he needs to have every part of my life, even if it means to sacrifice and surrender my relationship for my friends to God, because I know that He knows what is best for me. Letting Jesus have all of my life is hard, but the thing that I have to do daily, is resurrender my life to him everyday. And does it get easier? Yes. Trusting Jesus to be my all, and putting everything in his hands does make it easier, because now I don’t have to constantly be concerned with how things will work out, because my focus isn’t on me anymore. Its on the King of the Universe.
Good question. I think that most people will say something is “too deep” or “too serious” when it’s something that they know is important but don’t really want to have to deal with. And claiming not to have an opinion is usually a form of escaping the issue. So as far as that is concerned, there isn’t too much that you can do about it but pray that their hearts be more open and softened to the idea of talking about things like that. I don’t really think there’s a set age or time to begin talking about things like that. Once the question of salvation and our purpose arrives, it’s best not to avoid seeking the truth. But if that isn’t a question someone has asked by the time they’re preparing to enter the world, it should probably be brought to them. So that’s all I can really say on the matter. I wish I could give a definite answer, but I don’t really know one. I hope this helps some though. God bless!
I find myself in the same situation among my friends at church. They wouldn’t mind talking about “real” and helpful things, but they don’t want to start those kinds of conversations. Especially being the oldest teen I feel a responsibility to be the leader in conversations and start those conversations to be the “weird” or “awkward” one. I guess if you think about it, if doing these things is awkward then Jesus would have been the most awkward guy ever. But he wasn’t, he was just focused on the right things.
Yeah Sam your rite.
NO ONE is ever brave enough to bring up
anything Spiritual because they think they
will always be known as the weird person
who talk’s about spiritual things instead of
Cars, clothes, games, etc.
It’s very sad but most Youth groups now a
not very strong compared to what they used
to be. My Mum used to go to youth group
when she was young and they would talk
about God easily.
Most teens get uncomfortable talking about Jesus because they’re afraid of what their friends think, if you want to get a conversation about Jesus, try going 1on 1