YOUTH DEPARTMENT 15’S THROUGH 18’S HOW IS YOUR PARTICIPATION?
BY J.0. AND MARY WALLACE RONALD AND EDNA NATION
A teenager approached me in the foyer of the church saying, “I’ve just got to talk to you!”
“Sure,” I answered, “When would you like to talk?” I took in the big smile with the serious eyes and thought to myself, “what could this teen possibly want to talk to me about?”
“Can we talk right now?” the blond haired sixteen-year-old looked me directly in the eye, and as I said, “Sure. Right over here,” I quietly prayed, “Please, God, give me wisdom and understanding, but above all else, give me the ability to really listen and communicate acceptance to this young teen, regardless of her problem. Thank You, God, for making me open so that teens can feel free to approach me to talk about their problems.”
And so we found a private corner in the back of the sanctuary and a bewildered, frustrated young lady with gorgeous blue eyes brimming with tears opened her heart to me. She was seeking direction for her life, both natural and spiritual. Thrilled to be of help, I soon realized it was quite obvious that all she needed was a listener–a real listener. And it struck me that all our teens need real listeners. As I heard her story, I pointed out her alternatives as she named them, guiding her to her own obvious conclusions.
Allow me to hasten to add this point: your availability and openness for teens to talk is of paramount importance as a prerequisite for listening to teenagers. “What you are” is number one, of course; your quality of character and personality. Secondly, your ability to listen and understand, empathize with the teen, is of primary importance. Often, a trusted listener is all the teenager needs in order to sort out his problem. Be careful about giving advice. Guide the teen to his own solution to his problem. Helping him to face the problem, see all the aspects, recognize alternate solutions, and determining a plan of action are the logical steps in guiding the teen to his solution.
Accurate empathy is necessary for effective listening to teenagers. Platitudes are useless. Scripture reading to a teen with a very real problem often deepens the sense of worthlessness. What he needs is your understanding of his feelings, his frustrations, his needs. Mirror his feelings regarding the problems with emotional-laden statements which communicate to him that you know and understand how he feels. For example, “You were so scared.” “You felt confused.” “You kept hoping you’d wake up and find it was all a bad dream.” The immediate response makes you know he appreciates your understanding of his feelings. You not only are hearing his words but his feelings, both physical and emotional, and his thoughts and wishes. Somehow the problem is diminished by finding someone who understands. Quite often the teenager will look at you with appreciation and say, “Yes! How did you know?” Then, “I feel better already! He, Man, thanks for listening!”
Understanding the Youth
How is the teenager different from other learners? All learners have the same basic needs, but the teen has a different set of needs. The onset of puberty usually brings a different set of problems which the teacher must attempt to understand. The youth have specific developmental skills which they must accomplish and an understanding teacher helps him find answers. Some of these developmental tasks are as follows:
Developmental Tasks Of Youth
1. Establishing personal identity.
2. Making a wise career choice.
3. Learning to get along with the opposite sex.
4. Finding a suitable marriage partner.
5. Developing and utilizing talents.
6. Finding the right place in God’s work for utilizing potential.
An effective teacher looks at her youth and realizes they are each uniquely different, but each one has questions. The teacher who really loves and cares for her learners will help to guide them toward solutions to their problems. He or she will above all, point them to Jesus Christ, the problem-solver. He will not think of himself as the one with all the answers. No! He is the listener who lovingly guides learners. When the teenager is experiencing intense emotions about what is happening to him, the wise teacher “remembers” how it felt. Thus, he is able to feel empathy for the situation. He realizes, too, that along
with the intense emotions, there are wide mood swings which vary in intensity and longevity. However, they are predictable. Somehow, just knowing that the mood swings are predictable and that “this, too, will
pass,” makes the emotional roller coaster easier to ride. Teens are tough! They can hang on and weather out the storm! Knowing that the storm is normal and will blow over soon somehow makes the intense
One year, a teenager will be on a downward swing with his emotions; the next year he is seemingly on top of the world. If he is told to expect these swings as normal, he can better deal with the trauma.
Teacher, make a thorough investigation of the developmental tasks of teens. Learn their age level characteristics. Understand your teenagers. Help them to learn what to expect next. Then you can
reassure them that at the age of eighteen, or thereabouts, the sun will suddenly shine for them! They have made it through the turbulent teenage years.
Remember that for the teenager, the question, “Who am I?” is an important question. It is one that demands an answer during the teen years. An identity crisis should not be ignored. Finding oneself is one
of the major developmental tasks of the teenager. The usual age for the identity crisis is fourteen. If the fourteen-year-old teenage boy rejects his father as the central male figure for role-modeling, make sure there is a strong male figure he can pattern his life after. Many of the young boys of the church look to the pastor at this age for their male “father” image.
Qualifications of the Teacher of Youth
1. Demonstrates Christ-like virtue and grace.
2. Firm beliefs which coincide with Church.
3. Puts God first in list of priorities.
4. Under subjection to pastor.
5. Well-prepared to teach.
6. Genuinely loves learners.
7. Is enthusiastic.
8. Knows age-level characteristics.
9 Finds interests of learners.
The Christian teacher should demonstrate Christ-like virtue and grace. He should have firm beliefs which coincide with his church’s belief system. His value system demonstrates that he puts God first in His priorities, and he is under subjection to his pastor. Furthermore, the Christian educator must be well prepared to teach his lessons, show a genuine love for learners, be enthusiastic about the job he is doing,
know his age level characteristics well, and find the interests of his learners.
The classroom is not a depersonalized setting; rather, it abounds with emotion between teachers and students. Peers, too, are influential in shaping group processes of a class.
1. Identify with learners.
2. Speak with authority.
3. Make sure of learner’s understanding.
4. Provide meaningful learning experiences.
5. Reach them wherever they are.
6. Be natural and thoroughly Spirit-filled.
7. Walk in the learners’ shoes.
8. Listen to problems.
9. Provide guidance.
10. Respect learners.
11. Provide opportunities for pupil-participation.
12. Make practical application of truths to lives of learners.
13. Use the voice effectively.
14. Apply reinforcement schedules.
15. Maintain proper use of eye contact.
16. Use many senses as possible in learning experience.
Team Teaching for Youth
In simple language, team teaching requires that the master teacher know the special skills of each teacher in the team and make best use of those skills for the benefit of effective learning for students.
Team teaching is recommended for teen and youth classes. Three teachers are usually needed. The pastor or superintendent should carefully select teachers who demonstrate: (1) leadership training abilities, (2) persuasive evangelistic talents, (3) a genuine love for young people, (4) ability to relate to young people, (5) ability to firmly control the age levels of junior and senior high, (6) ability to handle issues without offending, (7) ability to interact with youth and lead stimulating discussions, and (8) ability to stand firm on Bible doctrines and a personal belief system.
This is how one plan works for a youth class: Assign a given time to each team member, (1) the introduction of the lesson (ten minutes), (2) present the facts or scripture (twenty minutes). (3) application or evangelistic emphasis (fifteen minutes). Be sure to include in your schedule class interaction and discussion. Learn how to apply questioning strategies to gain response from teens. Get a commitment.
Reinforce the established belief system. It is very important that team members be people who can work well together. They should develop respect for competency and trust the motives of other team members.
Practice and planning sessions during the week can help develop togetherness.
As with any teaching-learner situation, the teacher is the key figure in the team-teaching classroom. Every pastor should concern himself with finding the best qualified teacher available for the lead-teacher or master teacher. Those in authority should keep their goals high, realizing that destiny of eternal souls are at stake. Teachers, you have a God-given responsibility to lead your learners to Christ. How well are you accomplishing this task?
Interaction for Youth
Interaction and the ability to be heard and share feelings are of utmost importance to youth. Interacting with the group is an excellent method in which to learn to share. The youth soon learn that you, the
teacher, understand some of the problems they face and they begin to feel comfortable about asking you questions. Of course, expect some of these to be addressed to you personally.
During the group interaction, your main purpose in being there is to serve as a guide, to motivate, to stimulate, and to keep the group on course. Always clarify ideas, making sure that they adhere to the basic Bible doctrines of the church. Summarize and make supporting statements.
When a teenager comes to you privately with a problem, give him your undivided attention. However, be careful about giving advice. Refer difficult problems to the pastor, all the time reassuring the teen that as a listener, he can be assured that you will never betray his confidence.
Methods of Interaction
1. Dynamic group discussion
In the democratic method, the natural leader emerges.
Clarify ideas. Summarize.
Keep discussion on course.
2. One-to-One Learning
Divide class into small groups, one-to-one. Assign a subject of interest to teens and allow five minutes.
Put group back into large-group. Utilize fifteen minutes for the group to summarize their findings with the whole group.
3. One-to-Four Learning
Utilize the same method as the above, except each buzz group selects its own chairman. At the end of fifteen minutes, have the chairmen share the ideas gleaned with the large group.
4. Use your imagination for other group dynamic experiences, using small groups, one-to-ten, or one-to-fifteen, always summarizing ideas back to the large group. These buzz groups can be very stimulating and
involve all the teenagers. Pupil participation is the key here.
9:30-9:45 Greeting and Informal Interaction
9:45-10:00 Prayer Requests Sharing Time for Answered Prayers
10:00-10:20 Teaching Time
Team Teaching and Interaction
10:20-10:30 Interaction, Teacher guided Set Goals. Make plans for soul-winning
10:30-10:50 Teaching Time (Team Teaching is best)
10:50-11:00 Interaction and Application
11:00 Unified Dismissal. All are urged to attend morning worship.
Bible Learning Activities
Debate: Pro and Con
Maps, Flip Charts
Taped Story and Reaction
Log, Journal, Diary
Watching With a Purpose
Motivate with “Why?” Questions
Paraphrase a Hymn
Write a Song
Compose a Biblical Commercial
News Journal Reporter
Chalkboard: List of Points
Research Study: Report
Once the family unit, the parents, were the influencers of the teenagers. Not so any more. In 1960, a survey was taken in order to determine who influenced teenagers the most. It was found that teens were influenced most by their parents.
In 1980 the same survey was taken to again determine the main influence in the teenager’s life. The results were startling. It was determined that the peer group was the dominant factor of influence. Teenagers’ best friends had more influence on the young people than did the parents. Obviously, the close proximity of the peer group has caused some teens to drift away from church activities. Parents and teachers alike should keep a watchful eye on the close friends of teenagers. Obviously, it is best for the teenager to have a best friend who is fully wrapped up in church activities.
We should take a careful look at the church activities centered around our youth. Does the church have the youth actively involved? Are teens in responsible positions? Are they used on committees? Are their ideas otherwise used? Remember, they must be actively participating in the activities of the church. They need to feel needed by the church body. Use them in whatever way they may fit, whether it be in the choir, playing a musical instrument, or training as a student teacher. Use the many faceted talents of your youth. Keep them involved in the church and you will keep them. Love them, listen to them involve them in church activities. These are the keys.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY WORD AFLAME PRESS, 1967, PAGES 163-172. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.