This past weekend started our new ministry calendar for our youth ministry. Tons of excitement all the way around. We make it a pretty big weekend, as teenagers and the Bible studies leaders for each respective grade hang out all day on Saturday, spend the night in the leaders’ homes, and come to church together on Sunday morning. There is a ton of buzz in the air.
After hanging out this weekend, teaching students, playing ultimate Frisbee and war-ball, and talking with our other youth workers, I was struck by a few observations. I wanted to share three of them with you.
I’ve been involved in youth ministry now for 13 years. I’m always refreshed by how much there still is to discover about people, about the process, and about faith. Here are some thoughts from a great weekend.
1. Relationship Happens
I spoke with a youth worker friend who told me a story about something that happened this weekend. She said she was in her car driving home from an activity with her girls. The car was loud, as you’d expect from a car packed with teenagers. A girl this youth worker had only meet a few hours before, who happened to be sitting in the front seat, suddenly opened up to this worker. She told the worker of some unique and unfortunate situations she was dealing with at home. She talked about some situations that were painful and caused hurt. Right there in the front seat. To an adult she really had just met.
What do I take from this? Relationship is powerful. When we adults show up, I mean when we just stinking make time to BE THERE, that speaks volumes to students in need. This story is why I laugh at people who say youth ministry doesn’t have a place in our churches. This youth worker, and others like her, may very well be the only picture of compassionate adults this girl knows. Thank God for the relationships youth ministry empowers.
2. Every Group Is Different
I am teaching 7th graders this year. I have never taught 7th graders in large group Bible study, though I have taught them in smaller groups. I rely very heavily on interaction when I teach. I was nervous that with this age group that it might be a struggle. I had heard from some of the past teachers that it can be pulling teeth. Instead I had a room FULL of kids engaging in my questions and examples. It was awesome.
You never know the dynamics of a group until you know the dynamics of a group. I know this. And yet I was reminded of it again in Sunday.
3. Set The Bar High
I love to teach the Bible. I have plenty of room to improve, but I feel so alive when I am discoursing with young people, digging through Scripture and its implications. I threw a lot at these 7th graders this weekend, and they handled it all. There were some questions they couldn’t answer, some concepts that went over their heads, but they were tracking with me and were engaged. I want students to know that God’s Word is relevant and applicable to their lives, but that it’s also engaging, rich, and complex enough to hold their attention for the rest of their lives.
My philosophy has always been to teach slightly above your audience, with great passion and enthusiasm. I teach to where I want students to be, not necessarily where they are. I was reminded this weekend how fun this can be.
What youth ministry truths have you been reminded of recently?