Debate 101: Lesson 2 Lesson Plans
Goal: Research
I.                   What to research? ORIGINAL SOURCES

Vintage Books
With help, my 7th Graders read the US Constitution.
My 8
th Graders -Supreme Court cases and judgments.
With just a question or two, my 9
th Graders -Congressional Committees Reports
My 10
th – 12th graders – United Nations Human Rights reports – which they explain to me 
My 12 – 18 year olds WATCH presidential speeches live and take notes. Believe me; I’ll know if they listened to the “summery” by FOX or CNN the morning after. FOX and CNN might give sound bites of the actual speech, but those bites taste very different. In fact, if you listen to two different news stations, you might think they are speaking about two different speeches. How is a 15 year old to know which report is “the truth” if they didn’t listen to the actual speech?
Let’s not forget that debate is a competition. The surest way to get creamed in a round is to bring up Wikipedia or BBC news as a source. The judge can’t believe a student who says he knows the “truth” yet his “truth” come from an unreliable or bias source.
My debate students are smart. My church students are smart, too. The only difference is one is taught to go to the ORIGINAL SOURCE and the other is spoon fed second hand material that may or may not be true.
In 25 years of teaching youth, you can imagine the vast array of lessons I have taught. Because I’ve served at Biblical Churches under Biblical Pastors, most of the material has been Biblical – but the students may never know that. With the exception of the couple of years I taught Teen Precepts, Biblical youth lessons are broken down and spit out in topical sound bites for the students to chew on – too bad most don’t have much meat.
Bible Royalty Free Stock Image - 19021886
Students are rarely, if ever, taught how to read and study the Bible as it was written.

What’s wrong with this?

Students don’t read the Bible at home for themselves nor are they encouraged to do so. 
a.       Students have the misconception that the Bible is “too hard” for them to read on their own. They believe they must be told by someone older and wiser what the Bible says.
b.      This is simply not true! Taken from simply an academic point of view the Bible is no harder to read than the Shakespeare and Hawthorne they are reading in school.
c.       Taken from a Christian view, the Bible can be read and understood because the Holy Spirit interprets it for each Christian as he or she reads it. Which brings me to my next point …
2.      The way most lessons are taught negates the work of the Holy Spirit in the individual’s life.
a.       The writer of the lesson is led by the Holy Spirit. He is inspired by Scripture, keys the main points that God is speaking to him, and writes specific applications for a teen’s life.
b.      The youth is not given the opportunity to read the passage of scripture for himself, listen to what the Holy Spirit has to say to him in how to apply it to his specific situation in life.
Sidenote: I was recently at a woman’s conference in which a pastor’s wife told me that although she had been a Christian for 20 years, it was the first time she had heard the Holy Spirit speak to her through scripture. Sad.
3.      Christian youth are buying into relativism.
a.       Relativism = belief that there is no absolute truth. The truth is pragmatic and changes with the person and the circumstance
b.      If youth don’t know Scripture for themselves they can’t justify a definitive standard of truth
4.      Youth are unable to defend the Word of God and what it says.
a.       All they know is what they have been told 4th hand – what a teacher told them that a lesson told them that the author learned from the scripture. Hopefully the teachers are reading the scriptures themselves, but even so the student’s knowledge is 3nd hand.
5.      Students are susceptible to cults
The number one converts to Mormonism and Jehovah Witness are Baptists. Wow. Why?
a.       Here’s how the cults teach the Bible. A Bible student studies a pamphlet, or lesson that tells them what the Bible says. Then they are directed to a passage of scripture to read. When they read the scripture they automatically interpret it however they were pre-told to do so. The student then says, “The Bible says …” even if that Bible verse was taken out of context and it is not what the Bible is actually saying. This is true from personal experience, my husband was raised Jehovah Witness
b.      This is how we most often teach our students as well. We interpret for them before they read the Bible. Even if the interpretation is correct, the methodology leaves them open for false doctrine to creep in.

What can the church do?

1.Check the spiritual heart and pulse of the students. 
If the students have no desire to read God’s Word – I question if they are even Christians. 
The Bible makes it clear that those who love the Lord crave his World.
Psalm 119:20; 103
My Soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times. 
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.

 Peter 2:2
Like newborn babies crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted the Lord is good.

If they have no craving – maybe it is because they have not yet tasted the Lord’s goodness. Start here – lead them to read passages on who God is. Talk about your own personal relationship with God. Lead them to water, so they thirst for Him.

2. Make it a priority to get students reading the Bible for themselves
Once upon a time, there was a 6th Grade Sunday School teacher. He paid his students to read the Bible and journal what the Holy Spirit told them. Sometimes parents questioned his “bribery” methodology. To which he replied, “In America, money motivates people.” He taught kids to read their Bibles for 25 years, and then he died. At his funeral, there was a line of former students waiting to speak. 35 year olds as well as 15 year olds stood and said the same thing, “I still read my Bible today, because of Mr. Williams.” My two older kids were blessed to have him as a teacher, and credit him for starting their passion for God’s Word. Like my own kids, many of his former students are heavily involved in ministry – because learning to read God’s Word, and reading it changes people.

3. Teach by example

A.Study a Book of the Bible with students – not just topical lessons
B. Begin lesson by praying that the Holy Spirit will teach you through his word.
C. Read passage of scripture together
D. Ask the students: What does it say? – It is very important to teach them to look at what it says before jumping into interpretation. 
E. Ask: What does it mean?
F. Ask: What does it have to do with me? What sticks out to you? What is the Holy Spirit telling you through this passage of scripture?
The awesome thing about this is that the Holy Spirit can give the students different applications or teaching or comfort depending on where each student is spiritually and what he is dealing with in life. God has the perfect lesson for each student. 

If we want to hang on to more than 20% of the youth sitting in our youth worship services, they need to be reading the Bible FOR THEMSELVES before they graduate and walk out of the church doors. It is the only hope for the church and the only hope in maintaining a Christian nation.

I’ve been informed that Wikipedia has pretty accurate information, however anyone can log in and change the content, and the content is not always fact checked by experts. It is good to read for a basic understanding of an issue – but if you want to know the “truth” you need to read and study original sources. Likewise, most youth lessons and material have great lessons on life – they are written by Spirit filled individuals – and one can learn the general facts of Christianity. However, if one wants to know the “truth” and if one wants an ongoing relationship and conversation with the Creator – one must go the the original source – God’s Word. 


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