Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to reach young skeptics?

Bad news.  A couple years ago the Barna group reported that younger generations were more skeptical about the Bible.  They viewed scripture as less sacred, less accurate and teaching the same thing as other religions.

Good news.  But they also found that those younger generations expressed an above average appetite to gaining additional Bible knowledge. David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, stated:

“[The] central theme of young people’s approach to the Bible is skepticism. They question the Bible’s history as well as its relevance to their lives, leading many young people to reject the Bible as containing everything one needs to live a meaningful life. This mindset certainly has its challenges but it also raises the possibility of using their skepticism as an entry point to teaching and exploring the content of the Bible in new ways.”

How?  Here are Kinnaman’s six suggestions on how to engage young skeptics, along with how I am Second’s small group curriculum utilizes these suggestions.

1. Allow them to participate more in the process of learning:  I am Second uses discovery and discussion Bible studies, not “teaching” sessions.

2.  They expect experiences that appear unscripted and interactive.  I am Second group materials are discussion based, so they are interactive.  They also are unscripted.  The group watches an I am Second film, then reads a Bible story about someone with similar issues.  As six questions are discussed, we trust the Holy Spirit to guide the discussion and address needs in the group.  

3.  Allow them to be open and honest with their questions.  These types of questions surface because there is no predetermined “point” being made.  It is fascinating to see God fulfill His promise that His word never returns empty, but always accomplishes the purposes for which He sends it forth.  

4.  Are technologically stimulating.  I am Second uses culturally relevant technology.  Raw and authentic films on our website.  Everything available on smartphones. iPhone and Android apps.  Communication through Facebook and Twitter.  

5.  Done alongside peers and within trusted relationships.  Our materials advocate using the Person of Peace principle from Luke 10.  Which teaches to focus on spiritually open people, then reach their network of friends and family through them.  So the best place to do an I am Second group is alongside a person’s peers and within trusted relationships.  

6.  Give them the chance to be creative and visual.  Go to Facebook or YouTube and search for “I am Second.”  What you will find are lots of Facebook pages about I am Second in cities, campuses and schools.  And even more homemade YouTube videos of people doing their own rendition of an I am Second film. All confirming in their own hearts, and to the world, that they are indeed Second.

More about I am Second groups at
I am Second small group discussion guides are available as free downloads here.

They also may be purchased as printed booklets in our online store at

Monday, April 09, 2012

Church Grows through Student Second Groups

Report from Daniel, a youth pastor in Little Elm, Texas.

When I was first asked to take over the student ministry in my church, our Senior Pastor told me “When the youth get activated, the whole church will get activated.” I didn’t completely understand how true that statement was until a couple of weeks ago.

In December 2011 we launched our first I am Second group in our youth group.  It didn’t take long for our students to get behind the groups.  A few weeks after our first group launched, six students told me they wanted to take I am Second into their public schools. So in early 2012 we launched I am Second in our local Junior High and High School.  Soon 35 new students had joined those school groups.

We now have 8 groups. Each group caters to different types of people.  About 30 kids have joined our youth group because of groups our students are doing outside the church.

One group amazes me because they consistently have over 25 kids attending each week. This group has inspired the parents to get involved.  Each week 4-6 of the parents team up to host the group and provide dinner.

The whole church is getting behind these youth groups.  For example, the parents are wearing I am Second bracelets and t-shirts. Their impact is spreading, too, for now we are finalizing a strategy to launch I am Second groups for the men’s and women’s ministries.  Several new families have come to our church because their kids started coming to one of the Second groups.

After we train more leaders, we plan to expand the groups in the schools.  The schools have given us permission to put up banners during lunch to get more exposure for the Second groups.  So we’ll have an official launch soon when these new leaders are ready.

There is nothing more powerful than young people passionately telling others about what Jesus has done in their lives.  Our Pastor was right. “When the youth get activated, the whole church will get activated.”

Monday, April 02, 2012

What is a Second group?

Five students at a high school learned how to do Second groups with their friends.  Within one semester more than 100 students were meeting in the school field house every Friday morning at 7:15.
A campus ministry started using Second group methods, and within 2 months 25% of their existing groups had multiplied.
I am Second’s immediate appeal is aesthetic with its slick design, cool website, and inspiring films. But the real difference is more than skin deep. Here is the heart behind I am Second’s materials, using the SECOND acronym.

Stories and small.  Encourage people to tell their story. Listen to the stories of others. Then discuss stories from the Bible. Keep your group small (between 2 and 8 people) to maximize impact and allow everyone to discuss these stories.

Everyone learns.  Help people learn how to do these things themselves: a) tell others about Jesus, b) study the Bible, c) pray, d) live in community, and e) endure hard times. They learn these things as they go through the I am Second curriculum.

Consider everyone a potential leader.  View everyone as a potential leader, both before and after they trust Christ. Give people opportunities to lead if they continue to obey and progress. Hand over leadership roles to different people each meeting.

Obedience based, not just knowledge focused.  Allow the Holy Spirit to guide people in the life changes they need to make as you do the Live and Tell questions. Then as you start the next session, ask each Second to share how they did with their Live and Tell commitments. Consider not moving on if people did not complete them. This creates an environment in which loving Jesus means obeying Jesus.

New groups rather than big groups.  As people share with others, encourage them not to invite the new people to your group, but instead start a new group. Encourage new leaders to stay in your existing group, which is a “learning” group for them. Their new group becomes their “leading” group. So they get on the job training, but stay connected for ongoing training and accountability.

Discuss and discover.  Focus on the Bible. Trust the Holy Spirit to help each person discover the meaning of Scripture as your group discusses it. Lead through asking questions rather than lecture. Help everyone participate.

You can watch films here that describe Second groups and how to lead them.  You can download free materials to use to lead a Second group.  Or you can buy printed booklets of these materials through our online store.

These materials also are available as an iPhone app and an Android app so groups can discuss the materials using just their phones.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions.  Or let us know your experience using the Second group materials.