experimental youth ministry...

I was going through some old books the other day and I found a book that I was SOLD on from the moment I took the class at NYWC in 2009. It is called Shaped By The Story by Michael Novelli.

To me, this book and teaching method was so new. It is pretty simple when you think about it. The book tells us that story telling is the way the Bible was passed down from generation to generation for a while. This is also the way family history is passed down and many other ways of information is passed through story telling. Novelli took this archaic approach and trended it towards the Bible today. The book and the website have lots and lots of stories from the Bible to teach to your students. It is the belief of the author and those that read the book that it will help connect your students more to the Bible.

Most students can't tell a Bible story in its fullness. Most of the time, they can hit the highlights. It's like a picture book. However, if we tell the story of the Bible to the students, in story form, they may remember more details and thus will be able to connect their story with God's story; which I believe was the ultimate goal of the book.

I look back at this book and I see a time that I was so excited because I thought this was going to be the next great teaching method in youth ministry. I tried it and had some positive results. Looking back on my years (as few as they may be) in ministry, I see that the trend of youth pastors is to find the next great way of bringing students in, connecting them with God, making the best disciples of Christ, and changing the whole community you live in! When you find it, please let me know.

There are so many ideas and "experimental" ways to do youth ministry. We need to expand our knowledge of how to teach. This is why NYWC is such an awesome thing for youth ministers. It helps connect us with new resources and it also revitalizes us, if we are down in the ministry dumps and slumps during that time.

I encourage you to keep refreshing yourself with different teaching methods and ways, but also keep to what you know. Don't do something so drastic that it will change your whole way of thinking and the ministry foundation you have laid. Here are some simple ways to help incorporate new teaching methods into your group:
1. Pray about it and talk about it with your senior pastor. ALWAYS remember that you are not your own church! Make sure this lines up with the vision of the church that has been set by the senior pastor. After that, pray about it and hone in your skills.
2. PRACTICE! I can't start telling the stories of the Bible from this book unless I know them first. If I went and did it unprepared, I would be in a hot mess of trouble.
3. TEACH YOUR LEADERS! Before bringing it to the students, sell the parents and leaders in your group on it first. Help them understand the thought that God placed on your heart, and why you feel it would be the right direction. THEN LISTEN TO THEM! Don't make it your way or the highway, because soon enough you will be on the highway in a UHAUL looking for a new job!
4. TRUST THAT THIS IS OF GOD! New methods of teaching are ALWAYS scary! You are not sure if you will be hitting a home run or striking out. Have faith and give it time that God will provide and grow disciples through the new teaching method (whatever that may be).

I tried this to some success. What are some other experimental ways of teaching you have done or are thinking about doing? Post your thoughts below!


Noah said...

Mark, I loved the points and the balance you brought to them. While it is good for us to be willing to try new things so we can expand our ministry, we have to remember that we are not lone rangers, but a part of the body of Christ.

Excellent challenge!

Noah Lomax

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