Things Youth Pastors Should Stop Wasting Their Time On: Creating Powerpoint & fill-in-the-blanks

I despise fill-in-the-blanks.

They annoy me.

More importantly, I don't think they're particularly useful.

Needing to complete a bulletin filled with fill-in-the-blanks doesn't make me listen more attentively to the person talking – especially when I know they'll flash the completed fill-in-the-blank on a matching powerpoint slide. Instead, it encourages me to zone out for everything BUT the fill-in-the-blanks.

Despite this, as with retreat booklets and t-shirts, I thought that creating powerpoint slides and fill-in-the-blanks was what youth pastors did. So, for my first six years in youth ministry, I'd write my talk and then spend hours creating visually appealing slides and fill-in-the-blanks for my teens to complete as I talked. I thought that doing so made my youth services – including my sermon – interactive.

Not so, according to teens.

As it turns out, they hate powerpoint and fill-in-the-blanks more than I do.


Because powerpoint and fill-in-the-blanks remind teens of school. Even our best students don't want to feel like they're at school on a Sunday morning or Wednesday night.

Knowing that, eventually, I stopped wasting my time creating powerpoint and fill-in-the-blanks.

Maybe you should, too.

Imagine if you took the hour or two or twelve you spent creating powerpoint and fill-in-the-blanks and instead used that time to create genuinely interactive experiences for the teens in your ministry – things that would engage multiple senses and appeal to a broader range of teens. What might happen to the teens in your ministry? How might more interactive experiences impact their faith formation?

What I've seen in my ministry is that the more interactive the teaching in our youth ministry is, the more teens genuinely wrestle with and encounter God in whatever Scripture we're studying; The more their faith grows as a result.

Given that, here are some things you can use instead of powerpoint and fill-in-the-blanks to make your teaching more interactive.

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.

More about Jen

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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