Reaching Today’s Teens – Theological Tools

Greg Strand – May 3, 2013 5 Comments

What is important to reach the teens of today? How does one equip them for living faithfully in this world? What are the roles and responsibilities of those who are responsible for the training and discipleship of them, parents, youth pastors, youth volunteers? What are important “theological tools” for this endeavor?

Cameron Cole, director of youth ministries at Cathedral Church of the Advent, Birmingham, Alabama, and chairman of Rooted: Advancing Grace-Driven Youth Ministry, has listed “5 Tools Needed to Reach Today’s Teens.” 

I include his points along with the recommended resource.

1. Knowledge about the canonization of Scripture.
Recommended Reading: F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture

2. Developed theology of sexuality, particularly homosexuality.
Recommended Reading: Wesley Hill, Washed And Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality

3. Ability to teach the Bible in the greater context of redemptive history.
Recommended Reading: Vaughan Roberts, God’s Big Picture

4. Theological, not only moral, understanding of sin.
Recommended Reading: Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods

5. Understand adoption as an element of salvation.
Recommended Reading: Trevor Burke, Adopted into God’s Family (in the NSBT series edited by D. A. Carson)

Though I may nuance these issues a bit differently, and though there are things I would add to the list, and though I would likely recommend a few other/additional resources, I appreciate that Cole is intentional about equipping young people with biblical truth. This, then, becomes foundational for a life lived to the glory of God, for the good of the church, and for true human flourishing.

  1. What “theological tools” do you use?
  2. How do you equip those serving as authority figures according to God’s ordained roles in the lives of teenagers?

Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

5 responses to Reaching Today’s Teens – Theological Tools

  1. Neal Kloster May 3, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Greg, one of my top priorities is to teach students through the Bible to help establish some biblical literacy. Year one is Creation to Christ, curriculum I developed from New Tribe Missions’ *Firm Foundations; Creation to Christ.* Year two was life of Christ, developed from Sonlife Classic’s *Knowing Him* study. This year we are working through the book of Acts. For next year I am considering developing curriculum using Wayne Grudem’s *Christian Beliefs* and *Evangelical Convictions.*

  2. I lead middle school students and I see this as important. Without understanding of these things you cannot live with confidence. Therefore, I teach through the “Evangelical Convictions” book and teach a series on, “What does it mean to be an Evangelical?”, which leads into “What is the Gospel?” followed by a training in presenting the Gospel. So far, so good and when a few parents thank me for what they see in their kids, I can tell it is worth it.

  3. Neal and Craig, I am grateful to hear what you are doing. I appreciate that you are being intentional and purposeful about teaching the Bible and theology to young people. It was a great joy and privilege to teach, train and model the Christian faith to my own family, and I now find delight in teaching the sr. high Sunday School class at the local EFC church where I am a member. Though my two oldest children are grown, one in vocational ministry and one in college, my youngest daughter is still in the Sunday School class! Press on, brothers, and be faithful!

  4. Wow! How exciting to read the blog post and responses. I recently returned from the Amazon in Peru. As we spent long hours traveling home I was thinking about contacting you about this very issue. I am heading your way for the Leadership Summit in September and was wondering if you might have a little time on Sunday night 9.15 or after meetings on Wednesday 9.18 to talk about who makes the greatest impact in students today and what they are being taught.

    • Shawn, I am grateful to hear you found this post helpful. I would be delighted to visit with you while you are at the national office for the Missional Summit.

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