As youth workers, we find ourselves leading discussion groups regularly. Some discussions happen over coffee, some after significant life events, and some are a part of our regular weekly lessons. Knowing how to lead and guide a discussion is essential to helping youth own and develop their faith. In this three part series about leading discussions, we look at:
So why should we use discussion as a part of our teaching? Discussion is an essential teaching tool. Discussion also provides the opportunity for theological reflection. Let’s explore both of these reasons and how they help youth internalize your lessons.
In his book Teaching That Makes a Difference, Dan Lambert highlights the following reasons for discussion:
These are all good educational reasons for discussion to be a regular part of our teaching process. Discussion requires youth to engage with the subject. They learn as they articulate what they have heard, they ask questions, and they hear other perspectives. When we are the singular voice on a subject or topic, we limit their opportunity to learn and explore subjects more deeply.
From a theological perspective, discussion gives a place for practical theology to take place. Youth and leaders can do theology together as they dive into the Bible and lesson. Here are the steps of theological reflection that a discussion can provide as Dr. Andrew Zirschky defines them.
Discussion is a great place of theological reflection which internalizes learning. Discussion provides not only a place for answering the “so what?” question that every lesson should provide, but also pushes us to the “now what?” question that is essential for transformation.
These are both great reasons for having discussion, but the real challenge comes when trying to facilitate healthy discussion while navigating a variety of youthful personalities. We tackle that topic in part two of Leading Discussions: Handling Personality Types.
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