Teaching is a core competency for youth ministry. If you’re going to make it… you had better be an above average communicator of God’s Word. Titus 1:9 gives a simple description of a ministry overseer that is tough to escape:
“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”
As I chat with professional, full-time youth workers around the country I think I can categorize most of them into basic 4 categories. Forgive the generalizations. It’s not clean and I think people hop in and out of different categories at different parts of the school year and their life cycle in ministry. I think I’ve been all of these at various times in my life.
4 Types of Youth Ministry Teachers
- The artist: These people consider their teaching a craft. In their eyes, their lessons are as much art as a photographer, an architect, or a ballet dancer. They spend countless hours lost in crafting their teaching series, messages, etc. These folks look down on those who buy resources. Though, they may buy stuff occasionally for inspiration.
- The time manager: These people understand and were maybe once “the artist.” But they don’t have time for that anymore. They look at their role as a teacher a task and they want to prepare quickly. They are always on the look-out for a quick idea. They love ministry resources, video curriculum, and have a mantra that if they spend a little money on a resource that they’ll spend more time with students and less time preparing lessons.
- Copycats: These folks are always looking for someone else’s idea. It’s all equal in the Jesus economy, right? They listen in 6-8 sermons a week to glean ideas… not be taught, they love free downloads and hunt them, and they are always trying to take something someone else did and tweak it for their own use. They may not have many of their own ideas in play, but they’ll also be the first people to label their ministry as “very creative.“
- Processors: These youth workers believe that their teaching will be better when they work through the content as a team. So they draft concepts and have a team of friends/volunteers look at it. By the time a lesson is taught, it has gone through 4-5 levels of revision. These people love their process.
Here’s the kicker. I don’t think any of them are necessarily better or worse than the others. I think they all have a place. And I think each category can lead you to be a better-than-average communicator of biblical truth to adolescents.
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter that much which process you use. It matters far more that the message/teaching/lesson is delivered in a way it is absorbed than it is how the message/teaching/lesson was produced.