Grace. It’s a core part of who we are as United Methodists and personally as followers of Jesus Christ. As we begin to look at what it means to teach about Prevenient Grace in our youth ministries let’s look at what it says in our Book of Discipline.
Prevenient Grace – We acknowledge God’s prevenient grace, the divine love that surrounds all humanity and precedes any and all of our conscious impulses. This grace prompts our first wish to please God, our first glimmer of understanding God’s will, and our “first slight transient conviction” of having sinned against God. God’s grace also awakens in us an earnest longing for deliverance from sin and death and moves in us toward repentance and faith.
The original way in which John and Charles Wesley spoke of this type of grace was a preventing grace and I think this is important for all of us to consider as we are considering practicality of teaching about grace. Essentially the belief was that God’s grace awakens us from our sins and prevents us from going further into sin. Meaning God’s grace is with us once we are born into this world.
So, the day you were born into this world as you took your first breath, before you even knew who your parents and your family are and who you were, God’s prevenient grace greeted you. Essentially saying before anything else could….
You are loved.
Wow. What an awesome gift from God!
Now, as you are thinking about this, think about all the pressures that the world puts on us, or more specifically think about all the pressures that it puts on our teenagers. The period of adolescent is a time where they are figuring out who they are and essentially it feels like they are getting pulled in hundreds of different directions. They are constantly trying to figure out who they are, what they will do, and more importantly who God is and why all of this matters.
I hope you can see how important it is that we are not just teaching this to our youth, but that we are creating a culture of this in our ministries with youth as well. I have a couple of favorite ways that you can originally teach this to your youth, but my all-time favorite way is to teach it using chips and salsa.
Prevenient Grace and Chips and Salsa
This can be used in really any context, but it really works well in the small group setting. Set up a bowl of salsa and a bowl of chips for everyone to enjoy as they would like to and then the core of what you are doing here is explaining what prevenient (preventing) grace is and really what God is all about. No matter where you go Mexican restaurant wise, at least with Tex-Mex restaurants the first thing that comes to your table is chips and salsa. It’s automatic.
Just like all of us when we are born what is automatic for us is God’s prevenient grace. Whats also is automatic is that it is contagious. Grace is meant to share like you share Chips and Salsa. Grace comes to you to awaken you to who created you and help you recognize who you are and whose you are.
This doesn’t have to be a long time learning because the importance with this is setting the culture in your ministry of being a ministry of grace and love. Your students are begging for this knowledge of God. It’s important for them because it gives them a good dose of what reality is and what the world thinks reality is. Any chance you can give them clarity in their crazy lives with God’s grace is a great opportunity to have God speak through you.
As always my prayers are always with you and your ministry. If you have any prayer requests I would love to pray for you and help you in any way I can. Us youth workers and disciples need to stick together in the love and grace of Christ. Please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can pray for you and help you in anyway I can.
Thanks for all you do for the Kingdom of God!
Grace and Peace,
Bradley W. Alexander
Director of Student Ministries