The tool you are looking for is Bloom’s taxonomy. It’s not as exciting as a free youth ministry game site, but it is the best tool out there for deepening your discussions in youth ministry.
This tool is the key to taking your discussions to the next level. The basic idea is that there are several levels at which you can process any given idea and the goal is to plunge as deeply as possible with each session. Depending on the developmental level of your students you may be able to skip several steps, but we’ll avoid the developmental psychology rat hole and get to the content you really care about.
Level 1: Knowledge — This is the most basic level of processing questions like “Can you name the…” or “How many…” fill this level of processing.
Level 2: Comprehension — This goes beyond remembering facts to making sure you actually understand the narrative of the story. The questions here are “What was the main idea…” or “Can you write in your own words..”
Level 3: Application — At this level we help students solve new problems using the knowledge the have acquired in a different way. The questions look like “Do you know another instance where…” or “What factors would you change if…”
Level 4: Analysis — Now we get behind the information and look at the underlying motives by breaking info apart and looking at relationships between them. The questions we use to process this level look like “How was this similar to…” or “What are some of the motives behind…”
Level 5: Synthesis — This combines the information together by combining elements in new ways and proposing alternate solutions. The questions here are “If you had access to unlimited resources, how would you deal with…” or “What would happen if…”
Level 6: Evaluation — At this point the goal is to make judgements between options and defend what you believe. At this moment we ask “Is there a better solution to…” or “Do you think… is a good or bad thing?”
You’re welcome. Go talk about stuff.
Jeremy Steele has been working in youth ministry for the past seventeen years and now serves as the Next Generation Minister at Christ United Methodist Church in Mobile, AL. He writes for United Methodist Reporter, AL.com, RETHINK Church and various publications and organizations. You can find a link to all the places he contributes on his website at JeremyWords.com.
Follow him on twitter: twitter.com/unpretending