Tending the Youth Ministry Ecosystem

There are two elements which make up every ecosystem: environment and organisms. As a youth pastor, I recognize that the youth meeting is an ecosystem. As such, the key question becomes, “How can I influence the youth meeting environment in order to nurture Christian formation in my students?” Here are the steps that I have learned to use:

1. The space is recognized as sacred. I start my lessons with a centering prayer or a moment of silence, allowing students time to let all distractions fade. I break the silence with a simple recognition of God’s presence, “Welcome Lord God.”

2. Wondering is expected. I ask the group to agree to respect all (wondering) comments shared, by listening to whomever is talking. I also try to use open-ended questions which requires students to reflect on personal experience. Students who question are encouraged to continue their exploration.

3. Illumination is celebrated. When students’ wondering leads to insight, I celebrate. I learned this from my pastor who gets excited when students discover or understand something from lessons. And my group has committed to either praise God or give words of encouragement when insight is shared.

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Paul Sheneman
Paul Sheneman is an author, speaker and youth pastor. He serves with the Macedonia Methodist Church in Ohio. He drinks way too much coffee for his own good. His main interest is exploring Christian formation. You can follow most of his ramblings on his blog at www.discipleshipremix.com or on Twitter @PaulSheneman.

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