Adults who work with youth in churches are amazingly committed and talented. A major part of the youth ministry profession should involve working with a team of adults to learn and grow: in faith, in relationships with teens and with one another, in their interpretation of adolescence, and in skills and strategies for working with youth effectively. My go-to tool for the latter is becoming Stanley Pollack’s Moving Beyond Icebreakers.
I discovered the book in 2010 and have used it to structure youth groups as well as committee meetings. I’m seriously considering getting copies for all of our youth group volunteers and teaching it to them as our default method for structuring youth group meetings.
It’s a fairly simple method buttressed by a hard-to-argue-with conviction that meetings are better when interactivity is stitched into their fabric from the outset. So MBI employs back-and-forth interaction between participants and the facilitator at every stage, and it coaxes participants to interact with each other. Even if the main body of work is a presentation or a lecture, MBI builds a context of interacting and processing to deepen relationships.
Every gathering starts with a name-sharing and warmup exercise. There is always a “springboard” activity, then, that engages the group and gets people ready to do the work of the day. The main work follows, be that a discussion or a study, planning or building something, and then the gathering finishes with a brief summation of the work and an evaluation of the gathering. That’s it.
I think you could teach a team of youth ministry volunteers to design their own classes and small group meetings around this process, rather than relying on published curriculum. Yep, this is in my portfolio now.