I love to teach! I love preparing lessons and extrapolating the text in a way that my students can relate to. However, sometimes I wonder if what I am teaching each week is being effective. Maybe the way I’m going about teaching isn’t the best way to teach our students. Maybe most of us youth pastors out there are missing the most effective means of teaching our students.
Something about our current culture is that our students are “cause driven.” What I mean is, students want something to rally around and get behind. However, many of us in ministry talk about ministry week in a week out but never give our students the opportunity to use what they are learning. At the end of last year, I became pretty convicted that I was teach my students what to do but not allowing my students the opportunity to use what they had learned. It’s like watching film but never stepping on the field. While watching film in beneficial, if you never get to play, you become frustrated, apathetic, and you give up more easily.
So we decided to do what we called a “practice and play” series. What that means is that we taught our students how to do something and then allowed them to do it for themselves. After we talked about prayer, we had a prayer night for our students; on the night that we talked about journaling, we passed out journals; and after talking about fasting we asked our students to fast, and the results have been incredible. While all the knowledge about how to do these things, it was that much better to see our students growing from their experiences.
This past week at an event I just asked our students how their fasting had been going, and it was amazing how our students had pinpointed the things that enslaved them and had seen what their lives looked like without them. One student said that his family noticed a “marked difference” just from his one week of fasting from an i-pod.
The fact of the matter is that we need to stop hogging all of ministry for ourselves. I know that a lot of us are paid full-time to do ministry and delegation is not the easiest thing in the world, but we need to empower our students to do ministry in their day-to-day lives. So here are three tips for empower your students to use what you put all of your time researching and teaching.
Give Them Homework
Biblical knowledge is great but the Bible is not just about gaining knowledge but seeing life change. With that said, always leave you large and small group meetings with something that your students can do. Students get homework in school because teachers want them to retain what they’ve learned so take a tip from the teachers out there and give your students something they can do to put their learning into action.
Don’t Challenge Your Students to Something You’re Not Willing to Do
This past weekend we had a man weekend and part of that weekend was gross food challenges. Guess who has two thumbs and ate nasty food with his students…this guy! When you challenge your students to fast, pray, or whatever else, you need to come along side your students and do it with them. Your students need to know that you are growing with them and that you are willing to push and challenge yourself to grow along with them.
This Isn’t a One and Done
Your goal is not one level of growth but continuing to push your students to grow toward maturity. When a student grows in one area of their life, then you must pinpoint the next area of change and help them grow in that. The fact of the matter is, none of us are ever finished in our spiritual growth. That means that you need to constantly be challenging yourself and your students. Don’t simply challenge your students once and if it doesn’t succeed give up, but rather continue to push your students to grow in every aspect of their lives.
I am done simply preaching knowledge for my students to put in their head and never use. I want to see life change and I want to partner with my students in ministry that changes both them and those around them.