Youth Ministry Essentials: Two Creative Teaching Methods To Liven Up Your Lessons
“The most ineffective teaching method is the one you used last time you taught.” This statement, made in a podcast I recently heard, is a maddening truth of ministry: to teach effectively, we have to keep our teaching style fresh. We naturally teach in the way that is most comfortable for our own learning style. And since it’s easy for us, we come back to it often.
This kind of teaching rut is a challenge for even the most talented teachers.
To aid you in your ongoing quest to be the best teacher you can be, I thought I’d pass along two tried-and-true creative teaching methods your teens will love. Note that these are not illustrations or activities, they are teaching methods. These teaching styles are the mediums through which your students will learn. I’ve included a specific lesson idea for each method, but the possibilities for how they can be used are endless.
--Setup Time: One Hour
--Follow Up Time: 20-30 minutes for cleanup and to display your students’ art
--What You’ll Need: Drop clothes or a bunch of old newspapers; White butcher paper; Finger paints; A rinse bowl and paper towels; Paper plates for mixing colors; Space enough for students to work; Lots of PlayDough; Scotch tape to hold the butcher paper to your workspace. [Handy Tip: double-layer the butcher paper to avoid bleed through.]
First off, get the idea out of your head that finger painting and PlayDough are for kids only. Remember, the idea here is to change things up! These mediums make great teaching tools because they’re hands-on, messy (but only mildly so), vivid, expressive, and abstract. Art allows teens to express deep emotion and thought in a way that is individually unique. Ask big, broad questions you want your students to wrestle with, and then turn them loose to create. For example, you might start with a discussion of passage similar to Genesis 1:1. The first characteristic we learn about God (other than the fact that He exists) is that He is a Creator. You may say something like, “When we create, we’re participating in an activity that is at the core of who God is.” You could offer the following questions and let the kids chose to paint, sculpt, or both.
1. What would you like to express to God?
2. What do you want God’s help with?
3. Are you happy and want to thank him for something?
4. What are your emotions toward God?
5. What do you wish were different in your life?
6. What is your deepest need?
As they finish, ask each of your students to share what they created and what it means to them. You may not have the next Thomas Kinkade in your group, but my bet is that you’ll be surprised by the depth of what some of them make.
Local News Report
--Cost: Free if you have access to smart phones or a camera
--Prep Time: Not a ton of actual time spent on the activity, but you’ll need to arrange for this to be done before your meeting time.
--Follow Up Time: A few hours for you or a student to edit the videos and post them to YouTube
--What You’ll Need: One video recording device per group; any props or costume materials (optional)
This is your chance to tap into your students’ proclivity for content creation. Raid the costume closet, the thrift store, or students’ parents or grandparent’s closets for anything you could use as a Bible-times costume. Give your students a Bible passage, and ask this magic question: “If the modern news media had been present when this story had happened, what would they have reported?” The beauty of this teaching method is that your students actually do all the teaching! By deciding what would have been reported and how, they are wrestling with the text and pulling out the parts that are the most important to them. Remind them of the various elements of a news cast (anchor, weather, sports, international reporter, local reporter, eye witnesses, etc.) and have them play the different roles. They’ll have a ball doing it and they’ll enjoy seeing themselves on YouTube.
Does teaching creatively take more effort?
Yes, it does. But the payoff is huge. Your students will enjoy the learning process, and what they learn will be more likely to stick. And let’s be honest; it’s way more fun to teach when your students are enjoying learning. Teaching creatively helps that happen.
So what about you? Do you have a creative teaching method that has worked well for your students?
If so, we’d love to hear them.