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.

About Shane Stacey

Shane is the national director of ReachStudents, the youth ministry arm of the EFCA. He lives with his wife and three children in Minneapolis, Minn.

Posted on January 22, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I really like the thought that students don’t need more information, they need someone to come alongside and help them interpret truth in their lives!

  2. Shane,

    This is a really good post and an awesome reminder. Sometimes we get so caught up in preparing our “lesson” for the night we forget about the relational component. As always, thanks for your comments.

    Arthur Woods II
    Lancaster EFC

  3. Disciplemaker who make Disciplemakers…good word Shane!

  4. Good word, Shane,
    Grateful to have student ministry staff that really gets this and lives it! Now for us lead pastors!!

  5. Real good stuff guys! Biblical principles and truths taught, shared and practiced in a context that kids can understand can be life-changing. When we study the bible we look for the context to to help us understand what the author meant in the passage. Kids hear the truth on Sunday but, just like you and me, they need to see it applied in someone’s else’s life, someone they trust. It is all about relationships after all. As they begin to trust and observe truths being applied, they will begin to get it. Jonathan, thanks for reminding us about the “relational” component. Shane, thanks for sharing ways that we can reach our youth. God bless and keep you. [this is my first post here]
    Roland Carpenter
    Iglesias el Faro

  1. Pingback: An Alongsider | at the moment…

  2. Pingback: Five Hot Posts from 2012 « ReachStudents Blog

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