Posted on Leave a comment

Moving Past Your Dominant Teaching Style

When I was in college getting my teaching degree, we learned about teaching styles. You know, the  differentiation in how people supposedly learn, for instance visual, auditory, kinesthetic, read/write, verbal, etc.

Turns out, the evidence for teaching styles isn’t all it’s claimed to be. That is, research suggests people do have preferences in their learning styles. But the bedrock of the learning styles approach is that teaching people in their preferred style improves the learning results and sadly there’s no evidence for that. Continue reading Moving Past Your Dominant Teaching Style

Posted on 1 Comment

Addressing Students’ Behavior with I-Messages

My original background is in teaching: I’m a certified teacher in Dutch history and social sciences in secondary education. When I was getting my teaching degree, we had to do several internships. And boy, did I have my work cut out for me.

Most of my classes ware great and I could work well with them. But some groups of students were really hard and I dreaded teaching them. Yet, it was often just a few kids who caused the problems and who infected the others with being disruptive, insolent, or downright rude. But I was at a loss how to handle these kids.

Until the teacher who was supervising me, sat me down and explained a very simple technique called the I-message. Nope, this had nothing to do with Apple’s I-Message, since that didn’t even exist at the time! Continue reading Addressing Students’ Behavior with I-Messages

Posted on Leave a comment

Lay Off the Guilt

You should read the Bible every day, you know.

If you don’t invite your friends to this event, what does that say about you?

You really should come to youth group every week.

Let’s face it: if you only talk about Jesus in youth group, you may as well stop calling yourself a Christian.

Jesus doesn’t want your attention every Sunday evening. He wants your attention every day, every hour.

We’ve mastered the art of the guilt trip in youth ministry, haven’t we? We can package it like a ‘loving truth’ or ‘merely holding up a mirror’ or even a ‘Biblical confrontation’, but the fact is, that we’re dispensing guilt. And we’re really, really good at it. Continue reading Lay Off the Guilt

Posted on Leave a comment

20 Powerful Principles for Teaching Students

As youth leaders, we have much in common with teachers. We are both trying to get a message across the best way that we can.

The American Psychological Association has published a fascinating overview with 20 powerful principles from psychology  for teaching students from pre-K through 12 grade. As I read through them, I realized how many of these are applicable to youth ministry as well. Continue reading 20 Powerful Principles for Teaching Students

Posted on Leave a comment

Offering reliable and trustworthy information

There have been some serious floods in our area a few weeks ago due to heavy rainfall. Luckily the small village where we live is on a hill, so we escaped damage, but many towns around us have been flooded as rivers rose too high.

This weekend, we were confronted with an unexpected result of the flooding: our drink water has been contaminated as the sewer system couldn’t handle this much water. We can’t consume our water without boiling it first.

It’s a bit of a hassle that makes you appreciate the necessity of clean drinking water, that first and foremost. But it also made me ponder the importance of reliability.

I’ve always trusted our drinking water, trusted that it was safe, healthy and good for me. After this, that trust is somewhat damaged, although the water company did a great job in being open and honest and warning everyone about what’s going on.

Continue reading Offering reliable and trustworthy information

Posted on Leave a comment

Helping your students with ‘anchoring’ new Biblical truths

In cognitive psychology there’s an interesting phenomenon called anchoring. It means that people will always try to anchor new knowledge, problems or issues to existing knowledge and experiences. This not only helps us to remember things better (example: the same math equations work for math, chemistry and physics), but it’s also a big help in problem solving skills. In short: anchoring is a very important part of the process of learning.

Example: when given a problem (‘How do I open this jar that is stuck’?) we automatically try to recall previous similar knowledge (‘A few weeks ago I managed to open one with a knife’) and experiences (‘I have to be careful to use the knife in the right direction, otherwise I’ll end up cutting myself like I did last time’).

This process of anchoring has some interesting and important consequences for teaching Biblical truths in youth ministry: Continue reading Helping your students with ‘anchoring’ new Biblical truths

Posted on Leave a comment

How to make a good youth small group study

Making a good youth small group study yourself is time consuming perhaps, but also very rewarding. It gives you more flexibility than bought curricula and you can adapt your study specifically to the needs of your small group. While I don’t believe there’s one right format for good small group studies, I do think there’s a process you can follow to help you create a good study. Here’s what I advice on how to make a good youth small group study:

1. Pray

Everything you do needs to start in prayer, be imbedded in prayer. Without God’s blessing, the best Bible study in the world won’t make a difference for your students. Make it a habit to spend some real time in prayer before writing a small group study, not just a two minute ‘rescue me’ prayer a few hours before small group starts. Continue reading How to make a good youth small group study

Posted on Leave a comment

Creative ideas for memorizing Scripture

In the church I grew up in, we spent quite some time memorizing Bible verses. We always had vacation Bible weeks for kids where we were taught one or more verses, we did the same every Sunday in Sunday school and even the teen ministry gave it a shot.

But after that, I didn’t devote much attention or time to memorizing Scripture. In the last few years however, I’ve become more and more convinced of the importance of knowing verses, passages and maybe even whole chapters or books from the Bible by head. Continue reading Creative ideas for memorizing Scripture

Posted on Leave a comment

The lasting power of simple images

I was still a college student when I first encountered this image, or drawing actually. My husband and I were part of a Campus Crusade for Christ group and that’s where we first saw it. In the years we spent there, it became sort of funny, because the thing kept popping up in sermons, speeches, talks, Bible studies and testimonies. We referred to it as the ‘Campus-train’ and by the time we left the group, we could draw it off the top of our heads.

It’s a powerful demonstration of the necessity to put the facts first, followed by faith and then feelings. In this postmodern culture with its focus on experiences and ‘what feels good’, the temptation to put feelings first is big. But as we all know, our feelings aren’t reliable and they certainly are no indication or evidence of what God is doing in our lives. It was a deep truth, the depth of which we didn’t even fully realize at that time. Still, we found the image to be a bit silly. Continue reading The lasting power of simple images