I've been thinking a lot lately about the importance, or lack thereof, of a strategic year to year teaching plan. In our ministry setting, if a junior higher enters our ministry as a 7th grader he/she will have approximately 100 weekend lessons and somewhere close to 60 small group bible study lessons under their belt by the time they graduate from 8th grade. Of course this assumes they are involved in a small group and rarely miss either small group or weekend programs.
Sooooo, with at best 150 (add 33% if you have 6th graders) opportunities to speak God's truth into the lives of a group of students who are in the midst of CRAZY social, spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual development, it seems like junior high ministries should have a pretty solid christian education plan, right? It does to me, but we don't. Our team recently had a small, but rather disturbing, "ah ha" moment at our weekend program that caused us to acknowledge that perhaps we need to become more proactive in thinking through our teaching scope.
Sure we have certain areas of studies that we make sure we cover from year to year such as the basics of the faith, sexuality, core doctrine, etc. but honestly there isn't all that much that has been deemed as "stuff we always teach to every group of kids".
So this post is selfish, but hopefully one that will garner some discussion that will benefit everybody.
I would love to get comments briefly outlining your teaching strategy from year to year if you have one. If you don't, then explain your strategy for not having one. Here is some fodder for discussion:
- How do you balance felt need/topical with expository/doctrinal type teaching?
- If you have small groups, do they follow your weekend lessons or stand alone?
- Is it better to expose this age group to lots of topics or pick much smaller amount and repeat, repeat, repeat?
- Given their developmental stage, how much time should we spend helping them navigate this season of their life?
- Knowing that much of our faith is more 'caught' than 'taught', what types of strategies do you employ outside the formal teaching time to help students 'catch' a desire to follow Christ?
Okay, that's enough...I really could go on and on. Let's talk!