12 June 2007 ~ 0 Comments

How do you teach youth ministry?

Now that I have graduated with the other DL students from Luther Seminary with an MA in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry, I find myself ready to teach others youth ministry.

But what do you teach?

This is a legitimate question for me because I will be teaching Foundations of Youth Ministry at Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College over three weekends this fall. It will be a sophomore level class, and will go a long way toward equipping students for their careers as youth ministers.

But what do you teach?

I have had a collision of all of my lives recently. As I finished my course work, the personal ministry time had a chance to expand and to breathe. A youth lady in our area, brand new to youth ministry, agreed to allow me to mentor her in youth ministry. I read a book by James Emery White, called a Mind for God. (Excellent, by the way, and a quick read.) He recommended in his writing a book by Mortimer Adler called How to Read A Book. This book reminded me of two books, and the role that they played in my educational philosophy as an elementary educator, Cultural Literacy by E.D. Hirsch, and The Closing of the American Mind, by Allan Bloom.

But what do you teach?

The collision was that all of this, over 20 years of different disciplines (spiritual, theological, and educational) all came together at this moment, and provided me pause. What do I teach?

So I just jumped in. The idea is to see the student as a whole. See them as 7th graders (or sixth in your church) growing to be high school graduates. What do they need to know? What do they need to learn? How do I best transfer this to them?

So, what am I going to teach? Four things from this collision course:

What we know about God – The theology of ministry

What we know about ourselves – The minister in the ministry

What we know about youth – The objects of our ministry

What we know about youth ministry – The research, the movement, the programs, etc.

All of this is based on what White, Adler, Hirsch, and Bloom began articulating in their own disciplines. Combine this with the questioning nature of Rollie Martinson, and the recent research done by Christian Smith and the entire Exemplary Youth Ministry Study. This is what I am going to teach.

There are things that every student needs to know about God, themselves, and the Bible. It does not matter their geographical region, their denominational affiliation, or their gender. There is a baseline that every student needs to know, and a baseline that every student needs to become.

Let’s start at John 3:16, and go from there.


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