How can I know what to teach next?

What suggestions do you have for this fellow youth worker?

A Life In Student Ministry reader submitted this question:

“Sometimes when I’m praying about what to teach next to the youth I just come up blank. I have not been to seminary and maybe they teach you how know what to preach next. Sometimes messages just come, but sometimes I sit and fret about what is the next thing they need.”

I think this is a good question, worth thinking through and getting sufficient answers. I know this guy is not alone in this situation, so please leave your feedback here for him. Here’s my initial response:

1. Get your hands on a curriculum program and teach through it’s topics and issues. Just be careful not to teach straight from the curriculum. Personalize it and tailor it for your kids. If nothing else, this is a good way to get started with ideas.

2. Most of your topics and issues will come rather quickly after you’ve been more involved in kid’s lives. In an earlier comment on my blog, you said you’re only in your first week of full-time youth ministry. Give it some time and then you’ll start noticing issues that need to be addressed, such as foul language, purity, or gossip.

3. Let me encourage you not to only think about your curriculum topically, though. Teenagers need to have a solid foundation of theology, especially in Bibliology (how we got our Bible, why it’s trustworthy, etc.). It’s easy to give students the impression that the Bible should be limited to the self-help section of the bookstore. Scripture is so much deeper than that. God is so much bigger than that. If you teach practical theology, I believe the personal applications can hit a much wider range than just “don’t gossip” or “stay pure.” Besides, if you don’t challenge their theology, their future college professors will, except there will be almost no theology to challenge.

If you haven’t checked out yet, register on their forums. It’s a pretty active community of youth workers. When I have questions, need input on something in my ministry or am looking for some ideas on something, I often post there. They’re a good group of people.

Posted on May 15, 2007

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