Experiential learning at Teenstreet Malaysia

Ellyn S. | Malaysia

“One of the main challenges for youth today is to answer the question of identity,” said Dan Potter, founder of Teenstreet. “Parents no longer raise this generation; they are raised many times by friends and social media. So it’s very difficult for young people to answer that question of who they are.”

Dan and Suzie Potter started Teenstreet 25 years ago in order to influence more young people, and those who work with youth. From 10-14 December, 2016 many of the 275 participants of Teenstreet Malaysia encountered God’s voice in answering major questions about themselves.

They studied what God has to say about identity, laughed a lot, played games, created art, and worshipped God together. One day at a time the speakers tackled weighty topics such as: Who am I? What are my desires? Who is God? What are my abilities? How do I form my convictions? Dan and Suzie wove a tapestry of teaching, creative arts, and interactive discussions, while coaches (small group leaders) and other staff reinforced lessons through further conversations, games, and activities.

“They’re teenagers so they have to talk to their friends, they need to move,” Dan stated during the coaches training on the first day. “We don’t want them to just sit and be quiet, we want them to move and learn something.”

“24 hours [after a teaching] people will remember 6% of what they heard, 66% of what they saw, but 80% of what they experienced,” explained Suzie. “So if we can use as many senses as possible to teach them, then the teens remember much more.”

The unique teaching style allowed learners to hear, experience, craft, and verbally process a lesson, all within an hour’s time. “This generation has to be allowed to be unique, but they also want to be accepted by their community for their uniqueness,” said Dan. Each day’s lesson incorporated different elements to demonstrate the theme while at the same time engaging the entire audience.

During the first teaching session teens chose words including ‘inspire’, ‘lead’, ‘serve’, and ‘build’ to define their own being. These words were the beginning of helping each individual to reflect on the core of who they are.

“I learned that God satisfies us so much,” George a 17-year-old participant said. “So why can’t we just obey him?”

For many, the teaching and activities at Teenstreet Malaysia challenged them to evaluate their relationship with God and with others. Another teen realised through studying the life of King Nebuchadnezzar this week that she had no real relationship with God – that she merely relied on her own giftings. The 15-year-old then decided that she “wanted that special relationship with Jesus.”

“I work with young people a lot because I believe that among them there will always be at least one world-changer,” said Lynette, a coach. Throughout the week, staff and volunteers encountered teens that “were much deeper” than they themselves remembered being at that age.

“One girl told me that ‘The throne room [evening worship] is a place where we meet God and where God is waiting for us,’” said Alpha, another coach. “It blew my mind how reflective my girls are!”

During a coaches training, Dan talked about how many major decisions a person makes are decided between the ages of 15 and 18. He continued with a challenge saying, “Any chance to influence and help people of that age helps to prepare more young people to make good decisions in the future.”

Published: Wednesday, 01 February 2017
Credit: Ellyn S.
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OM has had an influence in Malaysia for over 30 years. From the early days of sending recruits to the Ships Ministry it has moved on to cross-cultural training and ministry for short and long term workers in Gospel-destitute areas of the world.

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