September 22, 2011 PhilBell

Teachable Moments

It’s easy to think that student ministry is all about events, programs, teaching, and hanging out with students. Well, yes, that is a large part of it. However, I am rediscovering that students learn and grow far more in the moments in the teachable moments, or where life can throw a curve ball at them.

We often work so hard to dig into the felt needs of students when creating messages or programs. Why? We know that it is the felt need that will get students “on the bus” when we are trying to get their attention and teach them something powerful and Biblical. However, it’s so important to leave enough space in our programs to allow for the teachable moments where felt needs are staring students in the face. It’s often these moments that students remember the most…

You see, whether it is a conflict with parents or another student… Or if it is a major decision that a student has to make… or whether it is painful mistake they have made… These are the teachable moments when students are MOST open to God’s answers… Yes, we cover topics and issues in our programs and teaching times, but it is the teachable moments when God’s answers will likely leave a longer lasting imprint on their lives, because their felt needs…

Here’s how I am trying to tap into the felt needs and teachable moments of students:

  1. Leave Space in your Schedule to Meet with Students: When the curve balls come, you have time to meet and support students. If we are too busy, we miss those moments. How booked up is your schedule?
  2. Watch Social Media for Teachable Moments: Not that I stalk my students, (I try very hard not to be that kind of pastor). However, students are more likely to post how they are feeling or what they are struggling with in their status updates. It is these updates that give us an opportunity to follow up and support them. Are we plugged into their world of social media? 
  3. Plan for Flexibility in the Teaching Schedule: Once a month in our large group we leave the message unplanned until that week. We look for topical issues of that week in the media or in our community that are good teachable moments.
  4. Ask students the Right Questions: “What are you learning this week”? This question and questions like this can often open doors to many teachable moments. It is when students talk about THEIR challenges and accomplishments that we are able to speak greater truth into their lives. A teenager who desires autonomy will listen and learn when they feel like it is on their terms. Asking about their world taps into their felt needs, and they are more likely to be looking for Godly answers then…
How are you taking time to listen and look for the teachable moments?
Phil <><

About the Author

PhilBell Phil Bell is a Family Ministry pastor with over 15 years of experience ministering to families. He holds a Masters in Christian Ministry and is a national speaker, columnist, author, and blogger. He’s passionate about investing in families and equipping parents to reach the next generation for Christ. He’s originally from England and now lives in Raleigh, NC, with his wife Lisa and their three beautiful kids.

Comments (3)

  1. Phil,

    I’m not as intentional as I would like to be, which is due to the schedule running me instead of me running the schedule. I look for teachable moments in our small groups, away from the crowds. When you can show a teen how much you care I think some of these moments just appear. Great post.

  2. Chris, I too wish I had more flexibility in schedule. I think the key is to do what you are doing! It’s important to search for the times that turn into teachable moments. If small groups work for you, that is great!

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