When a baseball player hits a ball on the best part of the bat that is called hitting the "sweet spot." The result is usually a squarely-hit ball, maybe even a homerun.
"Sweet spot teaching" is that moment when the leader and the student make a great connection.
Some would call this a "teachable moment," a time when a teenager is particularly responsive to learning something or being taught. In other words, it's that special moment when the light comes on and the student really GETS IT! I hope your goal as a youth worker is to help students learn life changing Biblical truths. Sweet spot teaching can help you do that.
I've found at least three teaching environments where great learning connections are made.
Environment One: Spiritually Gifted Teacher
The first is when the communicator is spiritually gifted to make the Bible lesson come alive in the minds of teenagers. If you're this person, be thankful. A friend of mine would call you a Level One speaker. In my experience, there simply are not many of them out there. So what if you aren't a superstar communicator (which most of us are not)? Have no fear.
Environment Two: Spirit Empowered Lesson
The second sweet spot teaching environment is when the Holy Spirit just shows up, takes over, and does something incredible. Now, we know the Holy Spirit is always active in helping us teach and grasp the Word. I'm talking about those moments where the Spirit's movement is remarkable. Once I was leading our youth group in a Lord's Supper service during a Bible Study. Suddenly students started confessing sin and asking forgiveness from friends. That was an incredible sweet spot event, compliments of the Holy Spirit! You can't really plan those moments. (Though you can create fertile environments for the Spirit to move). Other than being a fabulously gifted speaker and praying for those unplanned spiritual high spots, is there anything the average person can do to increase the possibility of a sweet spot teaching moment? Of course the answer is yes!
Environment Three: Planning For Success
The third sweet spot teaching environment is a lot easier to plan for. I plan my teaching with the yearly calendar in mind. I've found this Since creates an environment for good connections between leaders and learners. Students are already aware of holidays and special days in each month, so teaching a study that goes along with that celebration will help with retention and recognition. Here is a list of some of the Bible studies I have taught with the calendar in mind:
- January (New Year's Day): Renewal and Re-commitment
- February (Valentine's Day): Sexual Purity
- May/June (Mother's Day/Father's Day): Family Relationships
- September (See You at the Pole): Prayer
- October (Halloween): Cults, Demons, Hell
- November (Thanksgiving): Being Thankful
- December (Christmas): Giving, Ministry, Mission
We all want our students to connect with what we are trying to teach them each week. Keep an eye on the calendar and your school calendar for events you can use to help your students experience that sweet spot teaching moment. Rely on the Spirit, be creative, and be intentional.
Stay on the lookout for those "sweet spot" moments.