If you want a better youth ministry, pay attention to author John Green.
Many teenagers follow John Green closely. John Green’s book The Fault in Our Stars has been made into a movie and currently is showing in movie theatres. Many teenagers not only read John Green’s books, but they also visit his YouTube channel—and often subscribe to it.
If you know John Green, you also know he has a brother, Hank Green, and the two of them are revolutionizing an entire generation of young people. How? By listening to them. By challenging them. By being entertaining. Effective youth ministry can learn a lot from John Green.
A few years ago, my niece Michelle sat on the couch crying. She just received word that good friends had been in a serious auto accident, hit head-on by a drunk driver. Her 3-year old son, Tyler, climbed into her lap, put his arm around her saying, “It’ll be ok, mom, I’m here.”
As our children grow, our hopeful prayer is they will be people of compassion, responding to others’ needs.
Schools are great a helping kids find out how to do things – reading, writing, math, research, and critical thinking to name a few. They are good at helping kids discover the importance of physical activity, sharing, honesty, art, music, and learning languages to name a few. What I don’t see very often, is helping them to discover more about themselves by looking at who they are, what makes them tick, why they think certain things are important while others don’t, or how to become centered rather than scattered. It won’t work to simply tell them to go discover themselves – we have to be there to mentor them on their journey.
Children who enjoy being together look forward to more times together. That’s why it’s essential to create ways for children to get to know each other and to build relationships. However, it’s easy in children’s ministry to focus mainly on the learning. Children will be more likely to come back and learn when they have friends.
I have been doing lots of thinking and wondering about what those of us doing formation in churches can learn from school teachers, practitioners, and educators. In searching the web for information that might help us discover new ways to form our people in the faith, I came across this article (http://connectedprincipals.com/archives/8061) on essential skills for children and youth, based on the “C’s” of education. The “C’s” of education vary depending on which list you turn to, but the most comprehensive list is Communication, Connection, Collaboration/Cooperation, Creation/Contribution, Community, Continual Learning, and Culture. If we think about how we can incorporate these into our life of faith and our learning, I think we could go a long way toward a more holistic approach to learning.
How effective is your Vacation Bible School (VBS)? Is it drawing the number of participants that you hope that it will?
Many congregational leaders struggle with VBS. With the increased competition for children’s time, many congregations have either cut VBS way back, joined forces with another local congregation to offer VBS together, or have dropped it.
But other congregations are breathing new life into VBS with success. They’re thinking out of the box and working at creating a VBS model that works in their congregation.
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