There are three crucial questions that surprisingly many youth workers can easily forget to ask as they minister to students. (I’ll cover the three questions in a moment, but follow my train of thought for a moment would you)?
So often we go to college to study youth ministry, (I actually studied Family Life for my Bachelors), we learn youth ministry philosophy, programming, and practical youth ministry… But we can easily miss these three crucial questions… When we arrive in a new church, we work passionately and programmatically to build a healthy and sustainable youth ministry based on a model or methods we have seen work before… But we can miss these three crucial questions…
Why do we miss the crucial questions? (I know we haven’t got to the questions yet… Stay with me for one moment longer)?
Rather than asking questions and delving into potential new territory, it’s our instinct to default to what we know: Models and methods.
In other words, we implement what is familiar instead of fact finding… We default to what we’ve done before instead of discovering the new…
So what are the three crucial questions you might ask?
- What are the needs of the students?
- Where are our students spiritually?
- What steps do we need to take to meet the spiritual needs of our new and committed students?
ONE: What are the needs of the students? You see, before we default to a model or method, we need to understand the needs of our students? What are their greatest challenges? What do they long for the most? What felt and perceived needs do they have?
You see, by listening first to their greatest needs, we can then develop a model, method, and teaching designed around them. Rather than implement what we have done before, we can custom create a ministry that meets the students where they are.
TWO: Where are our students spiritually? I am surprised by how many conversations I have had with youth workers who have little idea of the spiritual climate of the group they are leading. It’s not enough take a model and method and teach the word faithfully. It’s imperative we know where students are in their faith walk so that we can help guide them to the next steps.
Not knowing where our students are spiritually is like a doctor performing surgery without knowing a diagnosis!
THREE: What steps do we need to take to meet the spiritual needs of our new and committed students? By knowing the answers to the first two questions, we can then begin to develop a plan to help our new and committed students take their next steps in their faith walk.
Until we understand their greatest needs (which varies from church to church and area to area), we will not know what to teach and what to address…
Until we understand the spiritual climate of the group we can’t confidently create steps based on where they are currently standing…
Now please hear me out. Model and methods are brilliant to ensure that we have a good structure and balance to our youth ministries. However, it is essential we take time to assess the people God has place under our care first. THEN we can implement a model based on what we know to be true.
What are your thoughts on this? Are you addressing these questions? Have you missed the before? Are you following a model or method and forgetting to take time to ask crucial questions?
photo credit: Marco Bellucci via photopin cc