Lost in Translation: Why Students Need an Alongsider
Students’ struggle is not lack of information it is lack of translation.
When we don’t see change in a student’s life, we often think the problem is that they must need more information. Even if we don’t believe this is the problem, it is often how we seek to solve it. We give them another message.
The truth is what most students need is not more information. What they need is to see how that information has been translated into someone else’s life. The problem is they don’t know how to implement the truth they’ve heard into their lives. They need a model. They need an “Alongsider” who will draw them close so that they can experience how this truth (information) has been integrated into the life of someone they trust and respect. A person who knows them well enough to help them in the early stages of implementing and applying the truth into their own way of life.
I think this is why Jesus instructed His disciples to to repeat what He had been doing with them by teaching others (implied how) to obey everything He had commanded them (Matthew 28:19). For the high majority of people the place they struggle is not on what to obey…but HOW to obey it. The information (commands) are getting lost in translation (implementation).
It’s most likely not your teaching that needs more time and attention. The area of growth that you and your leadership community need to focus on is how you are drawing students close enough to you and others so they can see how you have integrated the truth into your way of life. This observation takes place out in the ordinary places of life where they can see you with your family, friends, strangers, co-workers, etc. It requires lots of time together in close proximity in the ordinary places of life.
Keep working on refining how you deliver your information, but give more attention to how you are drawing young people close enough to experience how that information translates into a way of life.