Here are 5 ways you can improve your work with young people.
Ask your young people what they like, what they don’t like and what they want to learn/do/try. Sounds simple doesn’t it, but very few youth leaders actually do this well. Lots of us have an agenda, or we think we do. The second part of step 1 is to ask the adults in the church what they expect of the youth work to see if there really is an agenda or if it is all in your head!
Don’t just list what you will do each time you meet. Actually plan. Plan for months in advance. Decide who will do what, what resources you will need, how each session progresses the theme or topic. Set an aim (broad goal) and some objectives (the steps you will take to achieve the aim).
Make sure the plan is interesting, inspiring even (see Kenny Wilson’s guest post to see why that’s important!) and varied. Don’t do the same thing every week. And stop telling people the answer. Questions are good. Learn to live with the doubt and imagination it takes to answer questions.
3. Now do it
But recognise that your plan is an excuse to build relationships with young people. I’m sure it is important that your group learn about Job/Jonah/Jesus but it is also important that they learn what a good, healthy, supportive, nurturing relationship is. They are much more likely to learn about anything if the learning happens in this kind of environment.
And work on practices. Cramming every night with games/videos/activity/nonsense doesn’t help young people develop and deepen their faith. Don’t be scared to spend some time being quiet. Don’t be scared to talk about God.
How was it for you? How was it for the group? You should evaluate often. More often than you think you should. Part of your evaluation should be time at the end of each session to check that the young people have learned something and if that something is what you hoped they might learn. But also spend time talking through how things are going.
Does your plan from step 2 need to change to take account of developments, progress or unexpected issues?
Does you group still meet its aims and objectives? Do they need altered?
How are the leaders? Do they need help? Training?
Too much youth work happens in isolation. It’s almost a secret. Tell people what you do. Tell your church. Tell the world. Tell parents.
Those are my top 5 tips. What would you add? Or take away?