6 signs the lightbulb's gone on

In a recent project for Arbor Research Group, a Bible teacher at a Christian school talked about the moment “when the lightbulb goes on” for the kids in his classes. In the weeks since, this phrase has echoed around my head.

As youth workers who want to see the faith of our students grow and flourish, we long to create moments “when the lightbulb goes on” spiritually for our teens. But what does it look like “when the lightbulb goes on”?

Here are 6 signs that the lightbulb's gone on for students in your ministry.

1. Increased engagement. When a previously disengaged student suddenly engages in your talk, conversation, or activity, it's a sign that the lightbulb's gone on. Increased engagement often reflects heightened interest in what you're discussing. Heightened interest, in turn, shows that something has clicked for students and begun to make sense in a way that it previously hasn't.

2. Questions. As we talked about a few weeks ago, inviting students to ask questions at every gathering is an important way to cultivate spiritual curiosity. New, deeper, or pointed questions can also be a sign that a student is wrestling through a concept or idea in a new way, intentionally trying to make sense of it.

3. Silence. Silence often freaks leaders out, as it can make us doubt whether or not anyone is actually paying attention. However, silence can also indicate deep thinking. During silence, teens are often trying to figure out how to put what they're thinking about into words that someone else will actually understand. Silence gives teens an opportunity to formulate their thoughts and questions.

4. Resumption of a conversation days or weeks later. For a variety of reasons, it can be necessary to push “pause” on a conversation with a student. You might run out of time. As good as it might be, the conversation might be tangential to the topic at hand. The conversation might also run it's course. Sometimes, conversations simply die. But other times, students will reengage in those conversations days or weeks later. When that happens, it's often because they've been thinking about your conversation in the interim and now need someone to test out a new theory or idea with.

Read the rest of this article here. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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