I am a bit of a mad scientist. I like to mix and match and test things. My favorite question is “What would happen if…”. I think I get this, partially, from a quote my old camp director Dick Stevens who used to describe his camp as “laboratory of Christian living”
I used to call my office The Lab, because that is where I concocted all the ideas for programs, etc. “My Lab” morphed into a studio, but that doesn’t mean I experiment less, in fact, I experimented more.
The goal of all my experimentation is to
- See what helps kids grown in their faith
- See what God does when we act in faith
- Weed out what does not work
I don’t experiment for experimenting sake, and I never treat my kids like lab rats. Our students are part of the experimenting process. Our teens are fellow scientists trying to figure out how they best process biblical truth (visual, auditory, experiential, etc.) and the more I find out what works with kids, I can do a better job of planning, programming, and mentoring to make disciples.
Our experiments can last one month or three months; enough time to gauge how our kids are responding to it. Don’t be afraid to try, fail, repeat. Every experiment we’ve tried was like a journey on a train where the scenery and landscape changed at a quick pass. There was always something new to point to out the window at and say “Look at that!”.
I used to get so focused on one model, one plan, one way of doing things, it felt like a slow drive through New Mexico. Nothing but tumbleweeds. This kind of journey stifled my creativity, the creativity of our group, and the creativity of the Holy Spirit.
Grab yourself some test tubes, a Bunsen Burner, your Bible, a few students and see what “new” methods you and God can introduce to make disciples.
When and what was your last youth ministry experiment? How did it go?
If it was a failure, what did you learn?
If it was a success, what do you learn?