In this week’s Whiteboard Wednesday experiment, we explore three ideas to help you maximize travel moments with teenagers this summer—turning “gap time” into “transformation time.”
Can two minutes change a person’s life? We know from our own experience that the answer is…of course! So summer travel offers many, many “gap moments” as you haul teenagers to a workcamp, retreat, camp, or wild-boar hunt. The key is to recognize those on-the-way travel moments as some of the most productive ministry opportunities you’ll ever get. The reason? You rarely get this much “dead time” to develop conversations with the teenagers in your group. But you need to see the “shotgun” seat as an invitation to intentional pursuit. I mean, the goal is to drill down (in a relaxed, lighthearted way) to get at the “meat” in a young person’s story. Here are two ways to do that:
- Practice Reverse Mad Libs—A Mad Lib is a pre-existing story that’s full of blanks where you can plug in words. You first brainstorm a random list of words, then plug them into the story randomly. It creates a funny, often-bizarre narrative. So a Reverse Mad Lib is when you “pay ridiculous attention” to your conversation with a shotgun-seat teenager, looking for one word in their answer as a launching pad for your next question. This is, simply, a way to drill down in your conversation until you find “gold” in their narrative (watch our Whiteboard Wednesday video below to see how this works). You look for something—anything—in what they’ve said that can give you an opportunity to follow up with a new question. And you keep doing this until you get to a place where you can ask a question, or make an observation, that “goes there.” Here’s what I mean by that…
- Trust the Holy Spirit to “go there”—There are moments in every conversation where we have an opportunity to go deeper with a student, if we only recognize the moment and take a risk. I mean, we ask a question that reveals something deeper about the teenager’s heart or life experience, or we make a bold observation about the gifts or treasures of their heart. Either way, the point is to take a risk and go someplace deeper than the surface, to get access to the heart. The heart is where all transformation takes place, so our goal is to “get there.” Again, watch our Whiteboard Wednesday video below to see how this works.
About a month ago, our YouthMinistry.com contributor Tony Myles wrote an excellent blog on maximizing the shotgun seat on a trip. Here are his bonus ideas: