by Dietrich Kirk 8/13/19
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.
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.
Youth like to talk. Discussion provides an outlet for the fact that teenagers love to talk.
Discussion engages the brain. Discussion requires them to think as they process and answer questions.
It can enhance students communication skills. Discussion can help youth grow in their ability to communicate their thoughts and opinions as well as how to have a healthy argument.
You can assess whether they are learning. Discussion is a great way to discover if the goals and objectives of your lesson are being taking to heart.
They learn from each other. Adolescence is a time of peer influence, and they want to hear from each other. As they share their perspectives, they add to the learning process and broaden the conversation.
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 the 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.
This article helps answer the “Why” of having discussion groups in your ministry, but the real challenges come when trying to figure out the “How.” How do we actually cultivate and lead these groups? How do we determine practical logistics while also navigating a variety of youthful personalities? The articles below will guide you through these challenges.
Dietrich“Deech” Kirk has been in youth ministry for 20+ years. He served as the youth minister of Brentwood United Methodist Church for six years before becoming the Executive Director of the CYMT in 2006. He continues to serve as one of Brentwood’s associate ministers. He is the author of Raising Teens in an Almost Christian World: A Parent’s Guide and one of the co-authors of Now What? Next Steps in Your New Life with Christ. When he is not leading the CYMT, speaking at youth events, or training other youth workers, Deech enjoys spending time with his wife Keeley and daughters Carlisle and Hallie.
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