Where the Rubber Meets the Road, part 2

Post a Comment » Written on November 29th, 2010     
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Does My Youth Ministry Have the Shape, the Story, and the Staff that Will Anchor Student’s Faith?

Next up in our Where the Rubber Meets the Road series are questions on how we help students understand and interact with the creative, redemptive story of God in their lives.


When students leave my ministry, do they know better how to think critically about faith and life issues? Have adult leaders encouraged them to wrestle with tough topics?  Do they know that there are things in scripture that don’t line up or even contradict other parts—and have they had the chance to dialogue about that?  Do they know anything about other faiths, or how others see our faith?  Have I given them the chance to critique worldviews in news and media?  If they have felt no friction with big life topics, we may see their faith erode later on.

Do students hear my faith story and that of my volunteer leaders often? Adolescents love stories, especially the ones of people they know and admire.  They need to hear how we first encountered God’s story and experienced his love for us.  They need to hear that we, too, have failed and had to pick up some broken pieces in our lives.  They need to know that though their story is unique, we understand the challenge of this journey they are on.

Do I provide opportunities for students to discover answers for themselves rather than be given answers? A hole cannot get deeper without digging.  If we want students to go deeper in their faith, we have to give them the chance to dig for some answers.  They will never forget the truth and promise they discover for themselves, even if we helped the process a little.  If they uncover a gem that they pick up and examine with their own hands, they are much more likely to hold onto it and cherish it.

Is there a balance of scripture → life application teaching and life issues → scriptural application teaching? Sometimes we tip the balance too far in one direction or the other.  And quite frankly, each of us knows if our students need more of one or the other.  The key is to make sure we aren’t emphasizing one over the other out of our own personal preference or comfort zone.  Students need to know how to ask a question about life and look for the answer in scripture.  But, they also need to see the benefit in approaching God’s word with a willingness to let it penetrate their daily living no matter what.

Do missional experiences include some sort of debrief and transfer of lessons learned to the place students live each day? One reason I think youth mission trips are getting more critique these days is because we can let them become a mission vacation—that is, a trip where we get away from real life, do something really different and then mourn the return to everyday life.  What mission trips should be are launch pads for living differently at home.  The mission trip should be the start of a ministry or life adjustment that we help our students commit to when they return.  Most of my former students who are living missional lives in the U.S. and overseas began to hear God’s call on their lives on a mission trip or through a sacrificial missional experience.

Part 3 will press forward into “Staff”.

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