Some of our older students expressed some discontent about our youth group gatherings. We had some good healthy debate together. Many of their suggestions we had done in the past, changes that made no change in growth both spiritually or numerically.
What it boiled down to was the desire to go deeper in studying the scripture. Obviously when you are teaching 6th through 12 grades and students who have known Christ for a month to students who have been Christ followers for years you can't teach at the top of the maturity scale or at the bottom. You have to aim somewhere in the middle and give them all one thing they can take home and apply in their lives.
I get nervous when I hear believers say they want to go deeper because that often means gaining more knowledge without any application in their own lives.
One student was talking about topics we repeat "all the time". As you know in youth ministry their are certain topics we will hit on an annual basis. One topic the student pointed out was, "you talk about reaching out a lot." My reply, "Yes I do. And when you guys catch on to this and start applying it we can move on." (same goes with honoring parents, relationships, purity, etc.)
I also understand that if I were an 11th grader and had been in the youth group since 6th grade I would probably crave something different.
So last week on our high school only Facebook group I challenged the ones that want to go deeper to read Judges 3 - 7 during the week and journal each day using the SOAP method. (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) 5 students took up the challenge. During our Hang Time last night we gathered out on the balcony and spent about 20 minutes talking about what we learned in each chapter and applied to our own lives.
I'm praying they keep it going. I challenged them to read the next 5 chapters this week. We will gather again and discuss as we did this week.
I didn't have to order curriculum. I didn't have to spend hours preparing a 2nd Bible study. I didn't have to create a time slot on another day of the week for a meeting. Students didn't have to purchase a study guide, they used a notebook and a Bible. I simply used my quiet time study and talked with them about what I was learning as well. We were all on the same playing field. Hopefully this will help them to go deeper in their own study of God's Word.
Truth be told we as youth leaders are often spoon feeding the students when they should be diving into God's Word on their own and feeding themselves. This is part of producing disciples not just converts.