top topics for college-age people to hear - part 1 of 5

I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately from people asking about good teaching topics for college-age people. I get so excited when I see these in my inbox! There are more and more people understanding the necessity of walking alongside this age group, and they are no longer willing to sit back while students detach after graduating high school. It’s even more exciting to see that people want to intentionally guide college-age people toward biblically mature conclusions in the issues they’re specifically facing. It’s that kind of heart and passion that leads me to write this series of articles. This five part series will cover a total of 12 topics I have found to be vital for any leader of a college-age ministry to teach. Not only will this series give topics that are vital to teach in traditional, formal settings (small groups, discussion groups, or in the form of a sermon), but the series will also provide a basis of topics to keep in mind as you’re discipling college-age people outside of those more formal gatherings. The last article will cover some important questions to ask and concepts to keep in mind as we disciple others. This particular article will cover the first three topics that immediately came to mind. Some of the topics in this series may seem basic. Some are topics you’ve probably covered earlier in high school student ministries. But they are important to discuss again in a college-age ministry for the following reasons:
  1. Late adolescents think much more abstractly than ever before and will therefore process these concepts much more deeply.
  2. Although their application of these concepts will tend to be inconsistent, they are more apt to apply them to areas of their lives.
  3. These are issues that are good to hear frequently, in any stage of life.
  4. College-age people universally think through or struggle with these concepts and do so in unique ways.
So, here are the first three topics I would encourage any leader of a college-age ministry to teach. Topic #1: Sin
I believe that a lack of understanding of our sin nature is the number one thing that will cause a college-age person to shrink back in his or her faith. During late adolescence, people are beginning to see much more of themselves—the good and the bad. Dealing with the guilt of sin, in my opinion, is the number one contributor to college-age people slipping into “mediocre Christianity” and the thing that most often will hinder them from truly engaging in a life of ministry. Most college-age people, like other stages, feel as though they’re the only ones struggling with that particular sin issue. They need to know they’re normal. So, I’ve taught the following messages frequently in our ministry:
  • Dealing with shame and regret (a walk through Psalm 51). Shame of sin causes us to run or hide from God, just like Adam and Eve in the garden.
  • Putting sin in its place (Romans 7:14-8:1). This talk basically deals with wrongly identifying ourselves in sin, rather than in whom God has made us to be in Christ.
  • I also typically will add two or three more messages to this series related to what I’ve heard or know specifically people are walking through at the time.
Topic #2: Relationships
Relationships are sought after in completely new ways during late adolescence. If this topic is not covered at least annually, you will miss the core of college-age people. Late adolescents have a unique desire for intimacy in relationships, both for healthy same sex friendships, as well as their friendships and dating relationships with the opposite sex. This topic is necessary to teach for preparation and guiding purposes. We want to make sure they are preparing themselves for godly relationships much more than looking for the “prepared one.’ So, I’ve taught the following topics with an emphasis on becoming the right person:
  • God’s design for marriage
  • God-given roles (Ephesians 5:15-33)
  • Dating: preparing (yourself) for marriage
  • Friendships turned heartbreak (the balance of being a friend and pursuing dating)
  • What makes a woman beautiful? (A walk through how God defines beauty.)
  • Homosexuality—I have done two to three weeks on this topic EVERY year.
  • Teach through Song of Songs. (This is a five-week series and I teach through it every 3-4 years.)
Topic #3: The Bible
This topic is massive for college-age people. Most who have grown up in church feel like they know the Bible—that is until they get into college. When faced with their own abstract thinking abilities they begin to reevaluate all the assumptions they grew up with. In other words, they begin to question whether or not the faith they profess is actually their own. When it comes down to it they don’t even know the basics. Why do we have the 66 books we have and what makes them God inspired over all other writings? How did we even get these books? Now, again, you may think they know this stuff . . . but trust me, 99% (or more) don’t! In fact most don’t even know simple Bible study methods, and because of this don’t even read Scripture. I teach the following topics at least every two years:
  • Inspiration—what we believe about the Scriptures.
  • The Formation—why the 66 books, how we got them, etc.
  • Preservation of the Scriptures —dealing with criticism
  • Rhyme and Reason—explaining that there is logic in believing what we do.
  • Dealing with Contradictions
  • How to get more from it —this is a walk through simple Bible study methods.
  • Why we need it—what God intended for the Scriptures to do in our lives.
Well, there’s the first three. In the next article, I will share three more topics vital for college-age ministries. Until next time . . . ...

Simply Youth Ministry is here to equip, connect, and recharge youth workers with the tools, relationships,
and confidence they need to help teenagers develop a committed relationship with Jesus Christ.

Facebook Twitter Youtube Instagram Pinterest Group