Soul Space 10 14
Fun - Relevant - Deep
Sharing Christian-Based Youth Resources
I love creating teaching resources, whether for schools or youth groups. My aim is to provide some added depth whilst still making sessions fun. The importance of making them relevant to everyday life cannot be underestimated. I mostly write for my current group. There is rarely time to finish editing a theme before I am working on the next one but inevitably topics come round again and with each review comes more ideas because every group is different and needs to be customised. Finally I publish a set online in the hope that some may find my approach and ideas to be helpful. Please drop me an email if so, or if you are searching for material on an unpublished topic as I may have something in draft. Brenda Lord
We all need some fun in order to relax and build friendships so games have always played an important role in youth work. It helps them to work off any restlessness and acts as ice breakers.
But games can also be used to deliver or reinforce a teaching point so we include games and activities that relate to the theme of the session. Even quizzes can act as discussion points for teaching rather than just testing factual knowledge.
The Bible is about people just like us, with the same needs and problems. Whatever we face, we will find something relevant in it for us. God designed the Bible to speak to every culture, time and generation and He will speak to us through it if we listen. Bible ‘stories’ need to be presented as being about real people with real problems because that is mostly what they are, so we should aim to do more than entertain. When young people see that the Bible can help them with the issues they face, it engages them. This is what makes the attention grabber at the start of the session so important.
Young adolescents are at a growth spurt stage spiritually, emotionally and intellectually as well as physically so they need more depth of teaching even if they do fidget and have short concentration spans. Provide doodle pads or something quiet they can fiddle with and they will listen much better. The challenges facing young people are changing at a fast pace, yet many of these can still be met by taking a deep look at basic truths. When emotional literacy is based on bible principles such as the fact that we are made in the image of God, it gives them a stronger foundation when their identity is battered by modern pressures. Today’s youth ask challenging, searching questions. If we teach apologetics rather than just doctrine and encourage them to ask these questions, we equip them more effectively for life.
I am targeting this age group because many people find it the most challenging age group to lead effectively. It is a complex one because young adolescents are at a growth spurt stage spiritually, emotionally and intellectually as well as physically. They are no longer children but don’t yet have the capacity of the 14-18 year olds who can handle a more mature approach. Sometimes referred to as ‘tweenagers’ because they are in between these 2 groups, they can act really young on some occasions but quite mature on others. They still enjoy fun, silly things and have great imaginations like the younger ones but at the same time they are starting to develop a capacity and a need for more depth of teaching. We ourselves find that this mixture of developmental stages can actually make working with this group very enjoyable.
No. Many of us have groups that cover the whole 11-18 age range which can be something of a challenge. Material that is workable for 11-14’s can often be adapted for older groups and we often include extension ideas. Some leaders would also be able to simplify the material for younger children. The background notes are suitable for leaders of most age groups.
In 2006, Dana Hanesová and I looked into the whole area of curricula and we recognised a need for teaching programmes to cover all areas of life – spiritual, intellectual, social and emotional. One of the key verses of the Bible is the Great Commandment in Luke 10:27 and Matthew 22:36-40:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and “Love your neighbour as yourself".
These verses cover precisely these themes and much of the Bible’s teaching revolves around them. The web site is divided into pages that correspond with these areas – Spiritual, Beliefs, Lifestyle and Pastoral. We will also post resources under Old and New Testament for those who favour a traditional chronological approach.
Leaders’ Notes: An important part of this project is to provide substantial background notes. They aim to encourage leaders to learn something new from the topic themselves as this gives us a fresh enthusiasm when leading; to assist in dealing with some of those difficult questions the young people may ask and to help with historical cultural issues.
PowerPoints have been included for some outlines but it is not essential to have this technology. A board or flip chart can work well and is more flexible. Having something visual helps them to remember more whatever you use.
Image credits for this page:
Peter Lord, Chris Bowman, Microsoft clip art