Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ConText

I'm trying an experiment with a teaching series for the junior highers called ConText. Inspired by this post, I'm incorporating the Bible, spiritual questions junior highers are asking, and text messaging.

It's the Biblical text + junior high context + texting.

Here's how it works: On Wednesday nights at youth group, we open the evening with a general question on the screen, along with my cell phone number. Questions are like, "what doubts do you or your friends have about God or Christianity?" or "do you think the Bible is worth reading?" Students have the first half of the evening to text their answers to my phone, which is being monitored by the junior high intern, Allison. She filters the questions for bogus or inappropriate answers, lets me read through all the texts to start thinking through my response, and types the answers into our Mediashout presentation. Later during the teaching time, she pulls up the texts onscreen and I directly address them. When youth group is over, I look over the texts again and reply to any students that I didn't directly address in the teaching or who need further clarification.

Some themes I've noticed so far:
  • If my question isn't worded well, the answers won't be either. The yes/no questions don't inspire great answers to work with. And if the answers aren't really deep--or they're all on the level of "I love poop"--then it's difficult to address those answers in the teaching.
  • Students who don't have phones or texting can feel left out, though I make sure that the message is something that can address everyone in the room.
  • This tends to be more topical in nature, as opposed to expository teaching. We've talked about doubts, the authority of Scripture, and suffering in the world.
  • More students have my cell number, so more students feel the freedom to text me throughout the week.
  • I've got to have my game face on. If students are asking difficult questions, I need to be ready to articulate a semi-thoughtful and loving response, even if that response is "I can't answer that right now."
The experiment has its drawbacks and honestly hasn't worked as well as I expected, but there's still three more weeks in the series to tweak and rethink what we're doing. Still, it's been a fun experiment, and maybe one worth trying in your ministry!

1 comment:

  1. What a great idea! Con texting :) Your Jr High group is blessed to have an inspirational person to look up to such as you.

    ReplyDelete