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Teaching Teenagers 101, Part 2: How To Create “STICKY” Lessons

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times: Teenagers won’t remember the lessons we teach. Youth ministry is all about relationships.” And while that’s largely true, it doesn’t have to be completely true; I think we can (and should at least try to) create memorable learning experiences for the students in our ministries; lessons that are sticky!

Want to create memorable, “sticky” lessons? Here are a few thoughts to get you started.

So, Who’s My AUDIENCE?

  • Identify the type of students who will be experiencing this lesson

(un-churched, churched, core students, student leaders, etc.)

  • Be familiar with teen development

(physical, social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual)

Think About The BIG IDEA.

  • What’s the goal of this learning experience?
  • What do I want them to walk away with?
  • What’s the big-picture truth I want them to understand?



“When I get ready to talk to people I spend two-thirds of the time thinking about what they want to hear and one-third thinking about what I want to say.”

               –Abraham Lincoln

– What problems do they have?

– What are their fears?

– What’s important to them?

– What’s going on in their world?

– What’s their context?

  • Utilize the different learning styles

– Spoken or written communication:  Average retention: 5-10%

– Media: Average retention: 25%

– Role play:  Average retention: 40-60%

– Direct experience:  Average retention: 80-90%

  • Keep in mind that most teenagers have a short interest span

– Notice I didn’t say they have a short attention span…they have a short interest span!

– Change things up every 7 minutes

– Use object lessons – Be sure to practice first!

– Utilize case studies – Let them wrestle with it in a safe place

– Use testimonies – Let students share and invite others

– Show video clips to enhance a point, add humor etc.

– Play devil’s advocate – Convincingly take the other side

Can They TAKE This Lesson WITH THEM?

  • The primary goal of teaching teenagers is to give them ‘handles’ for their faith.

– Be sure to provide practical action steps

– Be specific, not vague

– Help them see how the lesson affects their life


  • Try to boil it down to one sentence

– Create a ‘Final Thought’ or ‘Thought For The Week’

  • Consider using series for deeper subjects
  • Remember, it’s for them, not for you.

Your PERSONAL Touch!

  • Be yourself
  • What do you bring to the table?

–   Your personality

–  Your life experiences

–  Your quirks

Considering the fact that most of us find ourselves in teaching situations a couple of times per week, it’s fairly discouraging to have it pointed out time and time again that most of our lessons are quickly forgotten  by our students. But that doesn’t give us an excuse to present forgettable lessons! Not every lesson will stick, but they can all be sticky!

– Kurt

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Teaching Teenagers 101, Part 2: How T...

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