youth worker, youth ministry, student ministry, learn

How Students Learn

By Doug Franklin June 25, 2012

As youth ministry leaders, we are teachers, guides and mentors. Our role is to help students understand Christ and to help them follow Him. Students need head knowledge and at the same time they need heart actions. So what is the best way to do this? If I look around at youth ministries its seems like the most popular way of doing this is a mix of large group activities and small group discussion. If I look at the long-term data on students living out their faith after high school, I see that this approach is not working. So back to the drawing board with the question, how do students learn?

Students learn by identifying beliefs
Asking students what they believe can be one of the most interesting activities a youth leader can do with their students. I know tons of great Christian kids that believe the craziest stuff. Challenging student’s beliefs through Bible study can be a powerful tool in training them. It will also bring to light the topic of Biblical truth. If we pick the Bible study, we won’t usually get to the topic students are confused on. We need to let them tell us what they believe and don’t believe, so we can help them understand and internalize the truth from scripture.

Students learn through practice
Its safe to say that students don’t learn from listening, so we have to change our programs. If students want to grow as disciples of Christ, then they must learn obedience. We must begin to train students in the habits of a disciple. They must learn and practice sharing their faith, giving, serving those in need, being selfless and respecting authority. I have come to realize that students don’t just wake up one day and start doing these things. We must place students in situations where they can practice these actions.

Students learn through leading
If students never lead in the church, then they won’t be owners. Their faith will always be borrowed. We need to change how we think about young leaders and start putting them in charge of church activities. We will have better leaders long-term and students won’t just own their faith, they will own the ministry as well.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More