Teaching to Transform: The YouthWorker Journal Roundtable on Teaching and Preaching

By Jennifer Bradbury | February 4 2012

Every week, youth workers devote countless hours to teaching. They hope this investment will enable lives to be transformed as students encounter Christ, but what makes teaching effective and engaging? To find out, we talked to four youth ministry veterans:

Youth ministry guru Duffy Robbins is a well-respected speaker and a Professor of Youth Ministry at Eastern University. Duffy is also the author of several youth ministry books, including Speaking to Teeangers: How to Think About, Create and Deliver Effective Messages, which he co-authored with Doug Fields.

The founder of the popular youth ministry website,, Tim Schmoyer is also a regular contributor at Dare 2 Share's "Relational and Relentless Blog." He's author of Life in Student Ministry: Practical Conversations on Thriving in Youth Ministry.

Josh Griffin, the high school pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., blogs frequently at the widely read site He's also the author of 99 Thoughts for Youth Workers and 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders.

Pamela Erwin's desire to help students think critically and creatively is evident in the 25 years she's spent investing in youth. Pamela is a professor of youth ministry and practical theology at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn., and author of A Critical Approach to Youth Culture: Its Influence and Implications for Ministry.

YouthWorker Journal: What goals in youth ministry are achieved through teaching?

Duffy Robbins: Helping kids nurture a relationship with Christ, make good life choices and be equipped for ministry. All of this is drawn from Ephesians 4:14-16.

Josh Griffin: Dispensing information is part of teaching, but far more important are inspiration and challenge. Teaching gives youth workers the opportunity to combine personal experiences and story with the eternal relevance of God's Word.

Pamela Erwin: Critical thinking, biblical literacy and teaching the story of God's revelation. There's a tremendous difference between teaching objectives (what content we want to communicate) and learning objectives (the transformative learning that takes place through an experience). A primary transformative skill is thinking critically. Youth ministries are excellent places to teach biblical literacy basics such as the books of the Bible and key characters of Scripture. Youth workers also need to help students understand the big story of God's work in humanity from creation to Revelation, along with the individual stories of God's activity in Scripture coupled with how God is constantly pursuing them. Students need to know their stories are as important to God as those in Scripture.

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