We kicked off the new year in Student Quest, our Sunday morning student ministry program, with a new two week series called Labels from Simply Youth Ministry and put together by Josh Griffin, the high school pastor at Saddleback. It’s a great series that Heather and I have been really excited about; she’ll be teaching the second week of it. I remember Josh blogging his way through the series last year as he taught it at Saddleback and was excited to get my hands on it! Here’s the official description:
She’s a typical cheerleader. He’s a stupid jock. They’re nerds. Dorks. Emo. Ghetto. Preppie. Every day, students are being labeled and throwing around labels to define and categorize their peers. The end result? Viewing others and themselves as less than what God intended. In this 2-week series, you’ll give your students a God’s-eye view of who we were all created to be—loved by him and designed to love like he does. In the end, your students will have a healthy, caring picture of how God sees us and how we should see others.
Using the parable of the good Samaritan, as well as Genesis 1:27-28 and Ephesians 4:31-32, I spoke about the power of labels, both good and bad. Using some postcards from the Post Secret website created by people who labeled others or were labeled, we considered the impact labeling others has (you can see the postcards below). Some were kind of funny, but others really shocked the group – which is what I had hoped for. When Ephesians talks about it being evil behavior, we really needed to consider the power behind the labels we put on others, whether with words, actions, online or however we communicate them. I also spoke about how everyone is created in God’s image and the incredible value that places on them. There were three points I wanted teens to take away from the lesson:
- Realize that all humans are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27-28).
- Recognize and ask forgiveness for the times you’ve labeled people (Ephesians 4:31).
- Be kind to everyone, regardless of skin color, social status, or “value” (Ephesians 4:32).
A great follow up conversation would be to read the passages together as a family and ask your teenager(s) what they took away from the lesson or what stood out to them. Ask them what kind of labeling they see in their schools, friend circles, jobs, etc. Share times you and they have labeled others, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and how the above three points could apply to those situations. You can also follow along by listening to the audio of our lessons on our student ministry podcast at www.SummitDEpodcast.com.