Helping Teens Recognize Christian Truths

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

God has always emphasized the importance of truth. If we allow ourselves to be led by the teachings of the world, we may find ourselves being led away from God. This is a particularly important concept for preteens and teens to understand. As they attend school, watch television, read, and explore the Internet, they will encounter conflictingMormon Study ideas, and they need a foundation for recognizing what is true. They are at an age where they are going to be deciding whether to follow their parents’ teachings, or choosing new ones. These are the years parents need to be most vocal about their own beliefs, but also when they need to give their children tools for recognizing truth. Truth can be found in both the secular and the spiritual worlds, but it is often hidden away among a clutter of untruths. This family night lesson helps parents share their beliefs with their children and allows them to give their children the tools needed to recognize truth.

Learn to plan a family night lesson.

Prior to Family Night, gather a collection of sources of information, both secular and spiritual. Place them in a plain box. Decorate another box very attractively and label it “Complete Truth.” Decorate another so half is attractive and half is plain or unattractive. Label it, “Mixed truths.” You might place in the plain box a Bible, a hymn book, religious magazines, and other spiritual items. These represent complete truths. To represent mixed truths, put into the box secular textbooks, magazines, and newspapers. You might also include music, fiction, computer programs and ads for television programs.

When your family is ready for the lesson, play a game called Two Truths and a Lie. In this game, each person is asked to write two things that are true and one that is not. You might like to assign this in advance, so they can research for information to include. Information can come from religion, history, science, personal lives, or any other area they choose. Remind them they may not use the game to put down another person. Then each person presents his lists and everyone has to guess which piece of information is false.

Example: Adam and Eve were the first people.

Joan of Ark was Noah’s wife.

Jesus healed  lepers.

After the game, ask your family how they decided whether or not the information was true or false. Since you were just playing, it’s likely everyone either used prior knowledge or they guessed. Explain that this is fine when there is really nothing at stake. Ask them if they would have used a different method if there had been a one million dollar prize and they had one hour to answer each question. Most likely, they would then want to do some research. What research tools would they choose?

Explain that while prizes are a good motivation to work hard to find out what is true, there are some rewards greater than money. Suppose they were asked to decide if something was true, and they knew their eternal happiness would be at stake. Would they be more careful about being right? Would they be satisfied with mere guessing or even a bit of quick research?

The Bible instructs us to seek out truth. We’re commanded to learn if God is real and to know what is true from a spiritual and eternal perspective. Ask everyone to turn to John, chapter 8 in their Bibles. In the King James version, verse 32 reads:  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Ask your family what that scripture means. How can the truth make us free? What will it make us free from? Ask them what is the source of the truth referred to in this scripture. Invite them to read the scripture found at the start of this article.

Open a telephone book to the section on churches. Show them how many different churches are in their own area. This shows there are many people seeking truth in many different ways. Don’t discuss any particular church. Instead, move quickly to other pages in the telephone book that show places people might also seek truth: Schools, organizations, political groups, and so forth. Don’t comment on the validity of each place you show them yet. Just bring them to the attention of the family.

Bring out the boxes you’ve prepared. Show them the two decorated boxes and explain that  you want to fill one with pure sources of truth—sources you can always trust. The other box has sources that might contain truth, but they might also contain lies. Often they contain a mixture of each. Pass the plain box around and let family members take turns choosing, without looking, an item from the box. As each item is chosen, ask the family which box it should be moved to. Invite them to discuss the item and why it belongs in the assigned box. Who decided what was true for that particular source? How did they decide? Ask questions that open up thoughtful discussion, not just mindless “correct” answers.

When you are finished, spread out the items in each box, keeping them separated, and putting the labeled boxes behind them so you remember which group is which. What makes the two groups different? Why is one group always trustworthy? What is their source of information?

Tell them God is a trustworthy source of truth. Truth can be found in many places. Many of the things they learn in school are true, but some things might not be. Truth can be found in science,  history, and other places, but what is considered true often depends on the opinions of man, not on the teachings of God. It is essential that we learn to recognize truth. Ask them if there are any sure ways know what is true and what isn’t.

Invite them to open their Bibles to James 1:5-7 and read.

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

God has promised us that if we need to know what is true, we can ask Him. We can pray to know what’s true and because He always keeps His promises, He will find ways to make sure we know what He is answering. It may take a great deal of time and faith, but He always answers. We can also find answers in the scriptures. It’s important to study the Bible regularly so we know what is in it, and to pray for wisdom and understanding as we read.

Spend the remainder of your lesson helping your children learn to use the tools of your faith to discern truth from falsehood.

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