As having been a youth worker myself, I understand the complexities that come along with working within the walls of a church. For you to be affective, you must be up to date on youth culture and learn how to communicate in the ways they are use to. But you also have to deal with parents, co-workers, and church boards… and that can be a bittersweet relationship.
One of your main hurdles in starting to use creative projects is that you will come across differences of opinion of what art is, what it should be used for, and where it’s appropriate. Some people love it. Some people hate it. I personally think that creative expression opens the door to the heart of God. Some people believe artistic expression opens the doorway of rebellion.
In the church, especially, there are unspoken lines of conforming boundaries and edges that are not to be crossed. A lot of times it seems that what is done in the youth group can cross those lines (“those crazy youngsters”)… so you are already use to this. That’s why if you’re going to empower your students in the area of creative expression, you are going to need to be the biggest proponent of this and be their biggest supporter. You are going to have to be the biggest believer of everyone, cause if anything comes out bold, brash, or really intense, all the responsibility is going to fall on your lap. But…. I believe that when you experience the fruit of some of these projects, I won’t even need to convince you of this… you’ll already be sold on the power of using creative expression to build the faith of your students.
There’s more to say on this, and if you need to talk about this relationship more, feel free to contact me (scott) and let me know what’s up.
I have a few more miscellaneous things I’d like to share, and I don’t have one long congruent paragraph that I can share them all in… so I’ll just list them below for your benefit. These are quick thoughts about leading students in making art….
- It has to be youth driven. It has to be something they care about in order for them to want to participate.
- Challenge them and give them ownership.
- Critical Thinking. This is what you are doing. You aren’t just “having fun”. You are teaching them to process information and communicate in creative ways. When you are asked by “adults” what you are doing…. “Critical Thinking” is what you say.
- No ideas? Use the art around them. skateboards, film, posters, songs… mesh it with an issue.
- The point of this is not conversion. Art with this kind of agenda is quickly spotted and is usually dismissed. You’ll be blown away with what something that is simply honest and well thought out can communicate to others.
- By incorporating creative projects, you are asking students to apply what they know instead of just giving them more info. Youth kids usually “know” a lot of facts. Help them live out what they know. Teach them to critically think through information.
- You and your staff have to own it. You must be the biggest fans.
- A Year Challenge. I’m giving you a challenge. Try one thing… and event, and art show, a play… whatever. Brainstorm with students and think through a big project that they are excited about, and set a goal with them to accomplish it within a year. See what happens. You’ll be amazed.