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Teaching Engine #1: Positive and Negative Triggers

We often believe that our program IS our ministry. This is fatal. Ministry is simply a vehicle for relationships, which are the core of any Jesus-centered ministry philosophy. The key here is to leverage programs to facilitate ministry. Otherwise students may be growing in spite of your program and not because of it.

Every teen is going through daily experiences and relationships. They are making decisions and learning to live with the consequences of their choices. The real life of a teenager provides a whole host of connection points for spiritual growth. Meaningfully entering into a relationship with a teen and knowing their life circumstances gives us a route to draw them toward Christ. Generally there are two types of triggers: positive and negative.

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Negative Triggers: We are often acutely aware of the negative experiences of teens. The divorce of their parents, failing a test, or losing a job all give avenues in which we can guide toward spiritual growth. The first necessity for being able to tap into these negative triggers is often relationship prior to the negative experience. When we have relationship we can pace with them through their pain questions and responses.

Positive triggers: Positive triggers are experiences in the teen’s life that provide a sense of peace, love, comfort, care or success. These experiences are often overlooked for their potential teaching value. At such times a teen will often take a teachable posture toward spiritual truth and guidance by an adult that is pacing with them. Making the team, a new friend, answered prayer, the marriage of an older sibling can all be used as appropriate doors.

In our ministry we need to ask: do we provide enough adult relationships in order to know our adolescents positive and negative life experiences? Are we walking with them? We need to ask ourselves: Are we helping teens see where God is breaking into their lives in order to make himself known?

We often believe that our program IS our ministry. This is fatal. Ministry is simply a vehicle for relationships, which are the core of any Jesus-centered ministry philosophy. The key here is to leverage programs to facilitate ministry. Otherwise students may be growing in spite of your program and not because of it.

Small groups can utilize this spiritual growth principle exceptionally well. Triggers are usually accessible only through relationship. Relationship provides the opportunity to create growth using the triggers already present within individual’s lives. Multiple people drawing toward one another and God is likely to create fiction which can drive all involved deeper into the life of God. These are often triggers that can only be seen and experienced from within the relational context. It is often very difficult to relate to a large group of teens based on individual life experiences.

Thus the difficulty: How do we guide larger groups toward spiritual growth? Look for the next post!

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