Jesus’ Method for Youth Ministry

Jesus’ Method for Youth Ministry
Ted Duckly

A lot of youth leaders believe that a preached message is the best way to train teenagers; they just don’t think active and interactive experiences are practical in real life. But Jesus proved they’re amazingly effective. We shouldn’t be expected to teach the way Jesus taught. Jesus said in John 14:12 that he expects us to be better teachers and spiritual trainers than he was! Here are five Jesus-style training strategies:

Use parables. A parable is a compelling story with a hook. It doesn’t force-feed its meaning to listeners. Different people will learn different things from the same parable. Our culture is full of stories that communicate well–you can find them in films, popular music, books, and even news stories.

Model the message. If your life were a book, what would be the plot teach those who were reading you? At the heart of modeling is a desire to make your life a story worth telling. It means living purposefully, and it means looking for opportunities to demonstrate your words.

Ask good questions. Be curious. Follow through on the responses you hear. Focus like a detective trying to unravel a mystery–and the mystery is the person in front of you. Avoid “yes” and “no” questions to encourage more discussion. Don’t fake it–be yourself, not what you think is currently “cool.” Get them in your shoes–be honest about your own story.

Give them ownership–and let them make mistakes. We all know that failure is a master teacher, but we still seem hard-wired to rescue teenagers from the consequences of their decisions and actions. But that means we also shield them from meaningful responsibility and valuable learning opportunities.

Use strategies that are REAL. Years ago Group’s leaders, Thom and Joani Schultz, created an acronym to describe the way Jesus taught: Relational (interacting with you and each other), Experiential (stepping out of the boat, feeding 5000), Applicable (how does this work in their world?), and Learner-based (how does each individual learn best?).

This article “Jesus’ Method for Youth Ministry” by Ted Duckly was adapted from Youth Ministry in the 21st Century. From: June 2008. It may be used for study & research purposes only.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”