Because you’re a youth leader, I already know four fundamental truths about you.
- You love God.
- You love teens.
- You want your teens to love God.
- You want to make disciples who make disciples.
Week in and week out, you are striving to engage your students with Truth that will take them deeper with God and propel them out into their world to share Jesus’ message of hope in word and deed. That’s what making disciples who make disciples is all about. So let’s explore the next question in our “Top Ten Questions” series:
Question #7: How can I make my teaching more engaging as I seek to help my students become disciples who make disciples?
Jesus was masterful at communicating spiritual truth. And He frequently used purposeful questions so that He could deftly drill down to the core of a person’s spiritual worldview. Consider this passage in Matthew 16:13-17:
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you.”
Did you catch those probing questions Jesus posed as He engaged His followers in deep spiritual truth? What can we learn from the teaching model we see Jesus using here? Take some time right now and ask yourself:
- Why are questions an effective means for engaging others in a discussion about spiritual truth?
- Notice that Jesus starts out by asking His followers what others are thinking and saying before He asks them for their opinion. Why do you think this is the case? Why might it be more effective to launch into a conversation with questions that are less personal and then move toward questions that are more direct and personal?
- What opening questions could you ask your students this week that would challenge them to go deeper into the lesson material you’ll be teaching on?
- What questions could you ask your students in this week’s lesson material that would challenge unbelievers to seriously consider a relationship with Jesus?
At Dare 2 Share we call this teaching approach the ALT-ernative Teaching Style. It consists of the following three simple steps.
A – Ask great questions.
L – Listen intently.
T – Teach God’s Word.
Using an Alt-ernative-type teaching style unleashes teens’ natural curiosity and pushes them to think more deeply about what they believe and why. And here’s the critical piece – it pulls them right into the middle of the spiritual discussion so that they feel more ownership of the insights and principles you’ve explored together.
Sure, opening your teaching time with open-ended questions involves risk. You have less control of the conversation. Here are few tips and suggestions to help you:
- Be prepared for those times when your students answer with something totally off-base theologically. Affirm their honesty, not their answers, using comments like:
- “Thank you for your honesty…”
- “So what you’re saying is…”
- “Go a little deeper with that.”
- “Does anybody else agree with this answer and why?”
- Become better prepared to handle whatever comes your way by getting more youth ministry training. Consider checking out YouthSphere’s online youth ministry certificate program from my good friends Doug Fields and Jim Burns. They asked me to teach the “evangelism” section of this great online youth leader curriculum! (Use coupon code YSGREG12 for a 10% enrollment discount.)
- Get more comfortable with an Alt-ernative Teaching approach by using a Dare 2 Share curriculum like GOSPEL Journey® Maui or Life in 6 Words: The GOSPEL Explored. We’ve built the Alt-ernative approach right into the Leader’s Guides for these series.
Whether you’re using a purchased curriculum, freebies found online or are designing your own lesson, your goal is to communicate Jesus’ message and mission in an interactive, engaging way that helps your students love God and become disciples who make disciples.