You believe there is power in the Word of God. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t work so hard to prepare and teach it to your students. So, when you teach, are they listening? We cannot make students listen or care, but there are certain things you may be doing that cause them to not want to listen to you. Here are four ways to guarantee your students won’t listen to your teaching.
1. Be predictable
Most of us go through phases where we get stuck in a teaching rut. We default to an opening story, followed by three points and a poem. Okay, maybe that is not your specific rut, but chances are, you have one. Stop being predictable. I’ll talk more about this in the next point.
2. Just lecture
Most of us believe we are above average speakers and students want to hear us teach. Even if that is true, very few students will stay engaged if you just lecture for 20-30 minutes. Include planned interruptions in your teaching. Invite students to read scripture out loud, give them a pop quiz, play a quick game, or show a short video clip. Two cautions here: The first is to consider how much time this interruption will really take and how long it will take to get them back in listening mode. The second is to be sure you don’t still lecture for the same amount of time and then just throw the interruption on top of that, causing your teaching to last 35-40 minutes.
3. Spend minimal time in preparation
I know you are busy. It is very possible that youth ministry is not your job and even for those that it is, there are thousands of other things that are vying for your attention. Your intentions are great but before you know it, the day of youth group is here again, and you have not prepared adequately. Something I have found helpful is to create false deadlines. Our youth ministry meeting is Sunday night and so technically Sunday night at 5:30 is my deadline to be prepared to teach. However, things always come up and the time I planned to spend preparing on Saturday or Sunday ends up getting swallowed up by another urgent matter. When I don’t prepare well, I usually end up violating the previous two points by becoming predictable and lecturing the whole time. So, instead of making Sunday at 5:30 my deadline, I make Thursday at noon my deadline to be done preparing for Sunday night.
4. Don’t challenge their thinking
Don’t be afraid to go against what the current culture is feeding your students. God’s word is counter-cultural, and your students know that. If we try to make it palatable because we think they can’t handle it, they will grow bored with our teaching. Give them the truth in a loving way with as much relevance as possible and then challenge them to live it out.
Remember, we are not just teaching for the sake of knowledge, but with the intent of it impacting the heart and seeing true transformation in the lives of our students. Let’s be sure that our teaching is a catalyst in this direction.
Check out how the Fifty1 ministry curriculum can serve you in your teaching ministry.
Brian has been in youth ministry for 23 years. He is passionate about communicating truth to young people and the leaders that work with them. Brian loves to play, watch and talk about all kinds of sports. He and his wife Lynn have three awesome teenagers and live in upstate, NY.