This Guest Post is from Blake Dumais. Along with our friend Mark Seager, Blake & I meet up regularly as we discuss life, politics (well not really), raising children and theological issues. Like what he has to say? Follow him and all his wild adventures at @bdumais15
Several months ago, as I nervously made the transition from youth to adult ministry, I remembered a comment from a friend: “Once you are comfortable teaching kids, the adults are easy.” Having taught mostly middle school with a smattering of high school, there was some definite truth to that statement. With adults, no longer did I have to worry about things like projectiles, body “noises” or picking a good game. Behavioral issues aside though, some things stayed the same, and some things changed. Here are a few tips I picked up along the way:
Your content should stay the same: God’s Word of course, with age appropriate adjustments to illustrations and applications. But beware, just as you shouldn’t dumb things down “just because they are kids” (a pervasive problem in some youth ministries), with adults, neither should you break bad and start throwing seminary terms and Bible-geek level trivia around.
Be yourself. I never tried to look cool with the kids by wearing A&F and Hollister (OK, that’s a lie, but my wife and daughter dress me that way, I swear!) So be yourself when you move up in target audience age. If you really are soul patch and skinny jeans, you don’t need to wear a three piece suit. OK, scrap the skinny jeans no matter what, and if you are at First Baptist Church of Bible Beltsville, break out the suit. Just kidding (about the suit, not the jeans).
With kids, you naturally get, real time feedback. You are also expected to know more than they do. Recognize that with the adults, it will be hard to get a vibe. Also, some in the audience will probably know more than you do. That’s OK. Stay close to the scripture and let the Holy Spirit do its work in the hearts of the listeners. The Holy Spirit has something to say to everyone, regardless of their knowledge level.
Make sure your teaching is sound. While you can get away with a mistake with the kids, there may be adults in the pews who know more about the Bible than you do. As far as “stump the pastor” though, no one asks harder and deeper theological questions than the kids, so you are already well prepared. And when in doubt, like a good friend mentor told me before I taught my first adult class, “treat them like middle schoolers.”