Discipline is considered a dirty word for a lot of people within the church. We don’t like coming across strict or being rule bound because we hate that image people have of the church. I also think if a lot of us are honest we don’t like it in youth ministry because we don’t like being the bad guy, or we are worried about losing students!
I have been working full time with my current youth for a number of years and they have become very accustom to me. Along with this familiarity and the many relationship I have, comes the inevitable. They push a little more, and sometimes just down right don’t listen to me.
It is in these moments that I find myself being tested. My patience gets worn away and on occasion I have to discipline a student.
At the end of the 2012/2013 school year I began to notice that a number of my students were repeatedly not listening. They were being disrupted while I preached or led a small group. They were tuning me out. At first I thought it was just a phase they were going through, because honestly some days students just don’t have it in them to focus. But it became more than that. So what did I do? I threw a table!
Now that sounds bad, but I was teaching on Jesus overturning the temple. So I acted as Jesus acted. I was just going to tell the story but instead I acted out the story! The students got pumped! They began to listen to the story and began to ask questions about what it was like.
“Why would Jesus throw over a table?”
“Why was he so mad?”
That got me to thinking. Perhaps my teaching had become a little to formulaic. Perhaps it was me being boring and not engaging that led some students to wander. So I decided to test out the hypothesis. I started doing some Science experiments and acting things out, changing up how I use multimedia… and what do you know, those disinterested students began to come back. And more than just returning their attention they began to grow in interest and curiosity about the things I was teaching. For some it even fanned a flame for their faith.
I was reminded about the power of changing things up. Of not being stuck within the status quo. Perhaps a part of discipline, is being preemptive. Get students who might be disruptive to help you with an object lesson. Do something out of character( or in character as the case may be). By engaging the students in a new way, we work a different part of their brain or turn on a part that has been turned off.
What are some times you have changed it up in order to regain your students hearts and minds?
Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years and blogs exclusively here on LoveGodLoveStudents.com. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. Hit him up on Twitter @CorbinKyle