Every sub culture has its own lingo, and there is nothing different in the world of youth ministry. There are many terms and phrases that are only said around a youth ministry setting. And yes, a lot of these terminologies are a reflection of the students in your ministry, the area you are in, and the popular phrases at the time. But there are a few words and types of conversation that youth ministry would definitely benefit from if changed.
Saying “Kids” every time you are referring to students! The students within our ministries are just that, students. They are not kids and they definitely do not want to be treated like kids. Kids ministry and youth ministry are different, and they should be because they are at different levels. If we as youth workers try to create an environment where students feel welcomed, respected, and enjoy themselves we need to treat them at the appropriate age level. When we constantly use the word “kids” (even if you don’t actually view them as little kids) we communicate to them that we don’t see them at the age that they are. Even if nothing in your ministry treats them as kids, and you don’t view them that way it is important to change your vocabulary to match.
I received an email recently from a youth worker who referred to students as kids probably 10 times within the email and I cringed every time. We are not ministering to kids, we are ministering to students who deserve to be viewed that way. The email was from a youth worker to a youth worker and no students read it, but it still showed me how ingrained “kids” is in the vocabulary of so many youth workers.
I know that most of the time we don’t treat them as kids, and I also know that some students need to be treated like kids. But that’s not the issue, the issue is how students feel they are being viewed. So, stop saying kids when you are referring to students. Erase that word from your vocabulary.
Speaking to students in their language. This is not just a youth issue it is a church issue, we (leaders and pastors) expect everyone to speak Christianeese, and Bibleese as fluently as we do. Speak their language when you teach. Translate scripture into 21st century middle school or high school language.
Everyone in the room knows that you are smart and know the Bible. But the real challenge as a teacher is to take the Biblical principles and make them crystal clear to the students in your ministry that don’t have a Bible degree. You can stand up there and confuse the heck out of people with your Bible words and Biblical knowledge, but what good does that do if no one leaves understanding more about God and His word?
Youth leaders and pastors need to start speaking the language of their students while teaching and presenting the Word of God.