We had a wonderful getaway with our young adults this weekend. It was a great time of relationship-building, encountering God through worship, learning and being challenged by excellent preaching, sharing and praying with each other, and enjoying God’s beautiful creation. Our theme was Unique and we spent time learning about how God has created each of us so uniquely, and what it means to follow Jesus and live for God’s purposes in our identity as His children. One of the highlights for me was leading a young lady into a relationship with Christ. On a personal note, it was a joy for me to have my own college student, Claudia, there for the first time. It was fun for me to share this experience with her in a different role than as her youth pastor. The other thing I personally loved was having some of my good friends with us to minister. Laurie Bolton was our main speaker, and her husband Jimmy also shared alongside her on Sunday morning. And Jeff Parshall and his band, New Hope New York led is in worship. May fruit remain.
I am passionate about small groups. They are the backbone of the youth ministry that I lead. I am not personally leading one of our student small groups at the moment, but I do visit our groups each week and take time to observe and connect with our students and adult leaders. Here’s a principle that I shared with our leaders recently. I call it the “Look Who’s Talking” Principle.
I am a teacher by gifting. I love standing in front of a group of people and communicating. But when I am leading a small group, I have to remind myself that my role is different. The primary role of a small group leader is not talker, but facilitator. The reason I love small groups is that they give us a chance to help students learn in a more effective way than simply sitting in a chair and listening to an adult talk to them. Ouch! As a teacher, that hurts just a little bit. The truth is, students learn best, not by listening to us talk to them, but through experiences, and in the small group setting, through the experience of sharing what they are processing as it pertains to the topic.
A small group leader is not primarily a sage imparting wisdom, but a miner extracting wisdom from students through asking good, open-ended questions, listens carefully, and gets students involved in the conversation. Yes, adult leaders can share insights and experiences occasionally, but that should be an exception, not the rule. When leaders do all of the talking, students are relegated to the role of passive listeners rather than active participants. As leaders we must ensure that students are engaging in the conversation through sharing their thoughts with the group and listening to their peers. If you think in terms of the old Pareto (80/20) principle, as leaders you should be doing 20% of the talking, and students should be doing 80%.
If you are a small group leader, or if you have a few leaders in your group, take some time after small group to reflect and ask if students were engaging, or if you were doing too much talking. As a principle, remember the title of the 1989 movie, “Look Who’s Talking.” If there were a video recording, or even just an audio recording of your small group meeting, whose voices would you hear? Your goal should be to ensure you hear a whole lot of students’ voices (dare I say, all of your students?) and very little of yours. It’s tough, but it’s the best thing you can do for the spiritual growth of your students.
Here’s a little glimpse of our incredible weekend in Pennsylvania for Youth Winter Fest 2017! I want to say a very special Thank you to our amazing team who worked so hard and tirelessly to put this event together and made it possible for students to come and have an encounter with Jesus. Also, a big shout our to Josh Griffin for coming as our speaker, Dan Bremnes for leading us in worship, and John Branyan and the Nubian Gents for blessing us with their gifts and talents. Let’s continue working with Jesus as He is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. #YWF17
Would love for you to join us! Contact me to bring your youth group!
Today was our last full day at Camp Shiloh. It has been a fantastic week! I will post the video from today when it is posted on Camp Shiloh’s YouTube channel, but … Our main event today was Canoe Tug-O-War. It was really awesome! Then, this evening, we had our banquet. We are proud of all of our students, and I am pleased to announce that two of our SRC campers won Honored Camper Awards from their counselors. The award is given to a camper in the cabin who the counselor saw something unique in this week. Congrats to Justin Kim and Caitlin Doody on receiving the award this year.
Wednesday at Camp Shiloh is Watermelon Football Day. It’s always epic!
One of the things I love about Camp Shiloh is the passion for Jesus in this place. The chapels specifically are always powerful encounters as we experience the presence of God in worship and are challenged by the messages. It’s a privilege to be here walking with students as they are processing what God is doing. We have two days remaining, and I would invite you to join us in praying that they will fully engage God and embrace the deep, good work God desires to do in their hearts.