How I message prep [part 3]

Over the years in youth ministry, I have literally fielded many questions about how I put together my teaching calendar for my youth ministry.  I wish I could tell you that a) from day one I’ve always known how to do this & b) I came up with how to do it on my own.  But the truthful answer to both of those is NO.  This process used to be like playing blindfolded darts for me.  Then, about 6 years ago, I watched a video from a conference with Reggie Joiner (founder of the ReThink group in Atlanta, the Orange conference, and former Family Ministries Director at Northpoint) and he said something that stuck with me: All Scripture is equally INSPIRED, but not all Scripture is equally IMPORTANT.” That blew my mind.  I started asking myself “If this is true… then what is the most IMPORTANT scripture that my students need to know?”  That led me to some significant conversations with some other youth pastors I knew.  During those conversations, a friend pointed me to a book called “The Seven Checkpoints for Youth Leaders” by Andy Stanley and Stuart Hall.

This book answers the question: “What’s most IMPORTANT for students to know?”  They say that the 7 most important things your teenagers should understand before they graduate are: Authentic Faith, Healthy Friendships, Moral Boundaries, Ultimate Authority, Wise Choices, Others First, and Spiritual Disciplines.  I must say, I agree with them.  So, about 6 years ago I came up with a teaching strategy that has proven effective for my ministry.  I wrote all of these checkpoints down on a whiteboard… and then brainstormed, individually, every thinkable sub-topic within each main topic.  So now I have a mile long list of topics to teach on.  Now came the more difficult part: when to teach them.  This largely depends on your own group and culture.  I characteristically talk about Friendships at the beginning of the year, Moral Boundaries around Valentines Day (for obvious reasons) and Wisdom near Spring Break/End of the year.  There are also months where I totally abandon the checkpoints and do a book of the Bible study or a Character Study.  I now have a comprehensive 4 year teaching plan that is a general blueprint of concepts for what I will teach students in the 4 years that they move through High School.  I’m not saying that you have to be THAT planned out or detailed, but the most important point about all of this is:  BE INTENTIONAL WITH WHAT YOU TEACH.

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