Last semester I started as a student at Biola University. It was a major change for me (literally and figuratively). I had never been a part of any kind of Christian or private school, and I made a significant change in my major from Engineering to Biblical Studies. I have gone to public, secular schools my whole life. This new style of education was a bit of a shock at first, especially on my first day of classes when all of the professors opened the class in prayer. After I had been in school for a few weeks, I noticed a slight change in how I was leading in ministry – I tended to get a little more technical and detailed when it came to talking about God and the Bible with my students.
After a few weeks of leading like this, I realized what I was doing and made a course correction to fix this. I understood that my junior high students probably aren’t going to meet me at the level of detail that my professors are feeding me, so I needed to get down to a level they could understand.
I think this is a major flaw a lot of leaders in youth ministry have. Maybe not in the same way that I did, but the overall idea in general. We try so hard to get students to understand concepts and ideas that we want them to know, but we do it on our terms. Most of the time, students don’t soak in what we try to feed them when we do it on our terms… We need to get down to theirs. We reach out a hand and tell them to grab on so we can pull them up, but what we should be doing is crouching down to get to them.
Leaders: Instead of finding ways to bring your students’ understanding to your level, find a way to get to theirs. Put things in their terms. Use pop culture. Relate things to them in a way they can understand and track with.
Question: How do you make sure to relate with students on their level and not yours?