Notes & Quotes From The 2020 Well With Marko

We recently hosted The Well For Youth Workers. It was awesome to connect to so many youth workers and it was cool to Mark Oestreicher join us this year.

Here are some of the notes and quotes from this session:

Student ministries used to copy each other, now the best youth ministries around the world are weird, they embrace their uniqueness.


Understanding youth development is the second most important thing you can do as a youth worker to be effective in ministry. First is growing closer to Jesus, from which all effective ministry flows.


In general, girls form relationships by talking with each other. Boys form relationships by doing things together. In student ministry, keep a balance of these two things so students can form friendships and connections.


Teenage girls use 20000 words a day. Boys 5000 words today.


What if we had a voting teen on every board in our church? They are willing to take risks that risk-averse adults won’t take. Of course, it can get them in trouble at times as they learn, but we can learn from them and with them.


Most often in our culture, the only way a teenager can be treated as an adult is to get pregnant or get into legal trouble.


Teenagers are often in the awkward space of not yet knowing how to form new friendships, but realizing their childhood friendships can’t be sustained either.


When a kid says, “I don’t know,” ask, “if you did know, what do you think the answer might be?”


Most groups are formed by this process: the person Believes (the right thing), Behaves (the right way) then can Belong (to the group). But these days for students, it’s the opposite. Students want to find a place to belong, then they try on the behaviors then they begin to believe what the group believes.


Why is it so difficult to transition to adulthood? In many ways, our culture has removed the on-ramps and made it much harder than it should be. We need to give students responsibility.


A Junior High student gets the capacity to think abstractly, but they aren’t good at it. Since we’re not expecting them to use it, they just don’t develop it.


Normally when the youth ministry is communicating with the church, it’s the form of an apology.


We know we can’t isolate students, but the church still often does. We have to figure out ways – and take baby steps – to getting students plugged into connections and relationships with the whole church.


Some of my major take aways from The Well For Youth Workers this time around…

  1. So grateful to connect with so many youth workers from around the state! If you’re not on our list to join us at the next round of Well Training Events, join us here.
  2. I’m thankful to have had Mark Oestreicher join us for this event!
  3. I’m thankful to be connected with leaders and churches who have a heart for student ministry and for continuing to sharpen our ministry to the next generation. Thanks to host churches and the Harvest Team who helped lead this event.
  4. I love the flip of believe, behave then belong to the new ways of including students by helping them belong, then behave, then believe.
  5. The neuron portion of teaching is this event is among the things I have been talking about ever since:

There are a certain number of neurons in the brain of a person that is pretty much a flat line until the age of 70 when they begin to taper off every so slightly.

The only time that it changes in life is from about the age of 11 – 16. For two years just before puberty, there is a huge increase (maybe instead of one billion, there are now 4 billion) new neurons in the brain of a teen. It increase for two years and then very slowly decreases for about four years where it flatlines until about 70. The interesting thing is though the number of neurons is the same before age 11 and after age 16 or 17, they aren’t the same ones.

The things we learn as a teen are very important because it shapes our lives for the future, as far as brain development goes. I’m sure this is very simplified, but it make sense.

As an example, from The Well event with Marko, if you live in some part of the world and have an accent, but move some where else before the age of 10, you will probably lose that accent. But, if you move around the age of 14 or 15, you will always have a trace of the accent from childhood. Another example might be in the areas of the arts or sports. Many world class gymnasts or violin players begin at a very young age and unless you do, it’s going to be very difficult to be on top in that realm as an adult.

The implications for this and student ministry is powerful. We need to help students learn to pray, learn and memorize scripture, have a sense of what it means to be a part of a church, build memories of serving together as a church with other students and adults.

In a sense, we are helping to hardwire the brains of the students in our ministry at the single most impressionable stages in their lives. We must be good stewards of this.

What can you do in your student ministry in light of this information?

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