(I’m) Possible Is Not A Word For Youth Ministry

(I’m) Possible Is Not A Word For Youth Ministry
By Mark Eades

Every year our church allows the youth ministry to run “Big Church” (the main Sunday services).  I try to get a group of young people together to pray, plan, and present the message for that Sunday. This year as we were brain storming together one of my kids started to talk about impossible things that God can do and I thought about that word. I said to her, “You know if you take the ‘I’m’ off of impossible you get possible.”

From there we talked through the idea that if we take “I’m” out of the equation of life and allow God to run it anything is possible. This made me think of some of the things I say so often: “I’m so tired.” “I’m overloaded.” “I’m so far behind that I’ll never catch up.” “I’m sick of all of this.” It went from me coming up with what the message was going to be about to something that we came up with together. And what a result we had!

Here are some thoughts I’ve had since that great talk with the kids:

* Instead of, “I’m deciding what we need to do as a ministry,” it’s now, “What is the Holy Spirit leading us to do together?”
* Instead of, “I’m understanding what these verses say,” it’s, “How is the Holy Spirit teaching us about his word?”
* Instead of, “I’m wasted and need to take a break,” it’s now, “How do I place myself fully in the Lord’s hands so that he decides when I rest and when I work?”

I read a quote from Pope Benedict that said, “People who trust in themselves and in their own merits are, as it were, blinded by their own ‘I,’ and their hearts harden in sin. On the other hand, those who recognize themselves as weak and sinful entrust themselves to God, and from him obtain grace and forgiveness.”

I wonder how many times as youth workers we get our “I’m” in the way and make something that is totally possible for God Impossible for us to do. The next time you start saying a lot of sentences with the words “I” or “I’m” in them step back, pray, and see if God is in it—that just might help you along in your ministry more than any planning meeting, next-best curriculum, or great game book ever could.

Team Teaching Or Multiply Your Brainpower
By Jason Veliquette

Recently, after speaking to a group of middle school students, I asked a girl how I could make my message better. She replied, “Well…don’t be afraid to get loud every once and a while.” I didn’t realize that my speaking was so dry that our students wish that I would just shout a little to liven things up.  If they only knew the pain that I go through weekly, wrestling with what I should say.

After years of beating my head in to get something prepared, this fall I decided to take a different approach. I decided to team up with our associate youth pastor and take the team method. Now on a weekly basis, instead of beating my head on the ground by myself, I do it with him. We start with a subject and take the time to develop a teaching outline together. Then we usually present together. Our teaching effectiveness has greatly increased.

There are several benefits to taking this approach. One is that I believe that Scripture was supposed to be read out loud in a group. In the New Testament churches for example, the letters that were written to the churches were read aloud to the congregation. Also, when studying together we can wrestle with theological topics together. It is nice to have somebody that can say, “I think that may be heresy.” Besides correction there is also a large element of creativity that comes forth in a group setting.

There are also benefits to presenting messages as a team. First, different types of students connect with different types of personalities. Tim, our associate, is more organized and linear so he connects with the geeks. Second, this style forces the message to be more conversational and less of a download. Students love to become participators in weekly services. Being able to go back and forth in the message creates more of a conversation. Last, this style promotes discussion following the service. Being more conversational gives the students permission to continue talking about teaching points after the service.

I would encourage you to try the team approach to studying and giving messages. It has added life and fun to both the study and presentation of messages. Find another staff member, volunteer, or parent that has good communication skills and give it a try. If your students are also asking you to “scream” once in a while in your messages, maybe it’s time to try a different approach.

Teaching 101
By Kurt Johnston

If your youth ministry is like most, about 1/3 of your typical meeting time is dedicated to some sort of Bible study and discussion time. And, if you are like most youth workers you spend way more time coming up with a creative game, crowd breaker or video than you do thinking about your lesson.

It’s funny… I have never tried to ‘wing’ a game, I’ve never left a video to chance, and I always take my crowd breaker through a dry run. But I honestly can’t say the same for my lesson time. I hate to admit this, but because I’m a decent communicator with an above-average grasp on scripture I can freestyle a youth lesson well enough to be tempted to do so far too often. But don’t students deserve better? Shouldn’t God’s word be given, at the very least, the same amount of care and preparation as a silly game or goofy video? But where to start? What are some tips? While I can’t guarantee you’ll hit a home run every time you teach, I do have a few things I’d encourage you to keep in mind next time you prepare a lesson for your students.

First, I’ll share my little teaching 101 list and then I’ll comment on a few of the points:

Teaching 101

– The first minute is the most important minute
– It doesn’t need to be long to be good
– If it’s going to be long, it better be good
– Students like to laugh
– Students like stories
– Be real
– Be relevant
– Include active and interactive elements
– Offer specific application steps
– The last minute is also the most important minute

The first and last minute: Use the first minute to grab their attention. Youth may have shorter attention spans than most humans, but if you can figure out a way to prick their interest in the first minute, you will hold their attention much longer. Because students have a hard time remembering the lesson once they leave your meeting room, look for a creative way to wrap up the final minute. Use the final minute to ‘cement’ the lesson in their minds.

Length of lesson: As a rule, I try not to go more than 20 minutes in any given teaching setting. This would include interaction, active learning exercises etc. I’ve never heard a student complain that a lesson was too long, but I’ve seen them yawning and smacking themselves in the head trying to stay awake during lessons that were too long.

Stories, laughter etc: Youth love stories. They like stories from store-bought illustration books, but they like real-life stories even better. Better yet, they like your real life stories…especially the goofy ones they can relate to. Remember, a little laughter is a good thing, but too much can de-rail your lesson and actually begin to work against you. I don’t think you need to be a stand up comedian to be funny, but a good youth communicator looks for places to sprinkle in a bit of humor.

Humor tip: Never use humor as a weapon to ridicule, embarrass or single students out. Students are exposed to plenty of sarcastic, hurtful humor at home and school…it shouldn’t be part of their youth group experience.

Application steps: A youth lesson that has no specific application steps or ‘handles’ that help them carry it with them in the real world is, in my opinion, a wasted lesson. Yes, students need to memorize scripture, yes it God’s word stands alone and is sharper than any two-edged sword. But in order for it to impact the life of a young person, it needs to be able to be put in motion. Youth desperately need help understanding how God’s word makes sense in their world.

I love games. I love crowd breakers. I love silly videos. But I love God’s word more and I’m humbled that I’m allowed to present it to young teens. Writing this article has been a good reminder to me. I hope it has been to you, too.

From: www.simplycommunity.com web site. July 2009

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