Using the five key tools in youth ministry
Parenting for Faith’s five key tools are a great asset in youth ministry. Being aware of how they work and putting them into practice will allow you to be more effective at helping the kids in your group connect well with God, and you can also build them into your curriculum. If families in your church are already using the tools at home, or they are part of your children’s ministry, all the better!
The five key tools - the basics
The five key tools are exactly that: tools to help you as you find the next step for the young people in your group grow in their connection with God. Just as you’d grab the right tool from your toolbox at home to fix a broken door or put up a picture, the five key tools give you a way forward in any situation.
- Creating windows
- Chat and catch
- Surfing the waves
You can find out more about each tool here.
Here are some examples and ideas for how you can use the tools in your youth work.
- Kids love to hear about your lives, so you can create windows into your own relationship with God for them by sharing stories, for example, or prayer requests
- Invite other Christians into your group from time to time to give their testimony or add weight to a bit of your curriculum. There are lots of Christian testimonies and stories available online which provide windows into how God works in people's lives.
- Invite the young people to share their stories of where God showed up in their week.
- Youth groups can be a great place to create windows into how churches work, for example why and how worship songs are chosen, or how decisions are made. Why not encourage your kids to sign up for the prayer chain or see if they can shadow people with particular responsibilities in church?
- Set your kids a task: for example, watching during the service to see if they can spot how different people connect with God, or observing other Christians during the week to see how their faith impacts their lives outside church.
- To help your young people make sense of the world, it can be useful to help them talk through current affairs or issues nearer home while asking framing questions: where was God? What do you think he was doing? Is there anything in the Bible that might help us understand this?
- Teenagers have a lot of questions! On our website we have a simple four stage process to help you work through any question they have with them With a group it can be good to involve all of them in this process.
- The Bible is a great place for your young people to discover how God is involved in every part of our lives. Use these simple suggestions to help them see God at work and how he does that for us too. For more about what this might look like there's an article here that may be useful.
- To help them engage well with the Bible, show them which websites are reliable places to find commentaries or find out more if they get stuck on a particular passage. If you have Bibles with concordances, maps or dictionaries point these out and show them how to use them.
- The exercises for parents in session 2 of the course can be fun to use in a youth group. You can see them on the video or in the course leader’s handbook
- You could explore each of the five views of God suggested in the Unwinding tool with your group. Perhaps introduce the topic and then chat about one view a week.
- If you spot a particular view of God that needs correcting or broadening, you can build your session around that, selecting parts of the Bible to look at that might challenge that view or help them see other aspects of God that will balance their view. For example, if they feel God is disinterested in their daily lives, you could look at Psalm 139:1-18, Luke 12:6-7 and Exodus 33:7-23 to see what that might say.
- Try to create a culture in your group where young people feel able to share and wonder about God rather than worry about having the ‘right’ view of God.
Chat and catch
- Use chat and catch to encourage and equip young people to have a one to one connection with God
- If chat and catch is used in the children’s groups your young people might have been part of, it can be helpful to use the same terminology in the youth group
- If chat and catch is new for your group, you might find this training video helpful to share with your team.
- Ensure you build in time and physical space for your young people to have to connect to God in whatever way works for them. This may mean providing journals or Bibles or a quiet corner.
- Don’t forget to keep on reinforcing the many ways God speaks to us, as it can take time for people to discover the particular ways they ‘hear’ God.
Surfing the waves
- Teenagers’ passions and interests ebb and flow! The surfing the waves tool can help you spot what waves individuals or the group are surfing, which can inform your curriculum or enable you to reinforce what you see God doing in them.
- We love getting our young people involved in serving in church, but it can be easy for them to default to helping out with the children’s programme or doing the tech stuff. The surfing the waves tool can help you and they identify their passions or skills, giving you a heads up on where might be the right place for them to serve. For example, if they love writing, could they help with articles for the website? You can use the six-stage circle to help them do that well.
- Use the tool to help you reflect on the different preferences your kids might have for how they like to worship, for example. What have you spotted in them that may give you clues? Do they enjoy listening to music, or do they like to express themselves kinaesthetically? You may want to give the group opportunities to try a different way each week and then reflect on their experiences.
- The six stage circle can be a really helpful way to ensure you are introducing or establishing new skills or values well in your young people, and you can build a whole term’s curriculum around it (see separate article not yet written).