Normally I wouldn't talk about dating and dinosaurs on the same night in our youth ministry. Honestly, I would probably never talk about dinosaurs in our youth ministry! But, this night was different. It was the beginning of our Ask Us Anything series at axis. We are giving our kids a chance to Ask Us Anything by going to our website and submitting questions. On this night the questions were: "Should a middle schooler/high schooler be in a serious dating relationship?" and "How do dinosaurs fit in to the Bible?"
Really great questions. It made for a fun night trying to answer them. Here's a very brief version of how I tried to answer those questions.
Dating - I'm certainly not opposed to dating in any way. I also don't feel it's right to minimize the feelings a teenager may have for the person they are dating. Sometimes we just blow off their relationships by saying "You'll learn some day." or "You don't know what love is" ... things like that. But, the reality is, in their young lives these feelings are strong and we shouldn't minimize them. What I really tried to do was encourage kids to slow down. Relationships move so fast these days. Guy likes girl ... girl likes guy ... pretty soon they're moving faster than a NASCAR pit crew in their relationships. The reality that I tried to point out to our kids is that 99% of all teen dating relationships are not going to make it past high school. Are there exceptions? Certainly. A great couple that helps out in a youth ministry were high schools sweet hearts and have been married for 4 years now. But, they are the exception NOT the rule. Going in to a relationship with the idea that "This probably won't last" will really save teenagers a lot of heart ache and will save them from giving too much of themselves away emotionally and physically at this point in their lives. I encouraged them to realize there's nothing wrong with being friends and going out on group dates and doing stuff together like that. Be careful of the commitment at this point in your life. Be willing to take a deep breath and slow down. I also showed Taylor Swifts video for Fifteen because I think it has incredible dating advice in it.
Dinosaurs - We know they existed. We've seen the fossils. We've seen Jurassic Park. I honestly believe dinosaurs were talked about in the Bible. When I read that passage it sure sounds a whole lot more like a brontosaurus or something like that than and elephant or a hippo.
A person will typically fall on two sides when it comes to dinosaurs. 1) You'll believe they evolved over time, ruled the earth for approximately 140 millions years, and then became extinct approximately 65 million years ago. This is a world view that does not include God in it and because of that theories and answers to the evidence of dinosaurs will be based upon a world view that does not include God. 2) You'll believe that God created everything, and this would include the dinosaurs. That means dinosaurs lived when man lived, were actually on Noah's ark, and died out during the time the earth was being re-populated after the flood.
I believe in the latter. My worldview ... my beliefs ... include the God. I just think everything we see points to something greater than we are ... God.
Anyway, those are the "short" versions of how I tried to talk to our kids about these things. It was a fun and positive night for our youth ministry.