A New Way To Do Student Ministries?

This is a story of the only mistake I’ve ever made.

Early in my student ministry career, I knew my heart was definitely drawn towards teaching. I loved leading and building teams and everything else that went along with leading a ministry, but I really, really loved teaching. The best part of my week was when I was able to lock my office door so I could study and write, followed by the joy of speaking to a room full of students.

After a year or so of this, I found myself having frequent conversations with students where they would excitedly tell me about what God was doing in their lives by saying things like:

“My small group leader was praying for me and said….”


“This other girl in my small group is going through the same thing and encouraged me by…”


“We were praying as a small group and this guy prayed for me and it totally spoke to me because…”

I began to see a pattern.

Nobody was saying: “Dugan, I know all the glory goes to God, but that teaching to gave last week totally changed my life!” or “I will never forget that one thing you said in your teaching!”

Granted, I believe teaching is a spiritual gift from God that He uses is powerful ways. But what began to become clear to me is that: Students Grow Through Community.

I know what you’re thinking: “Um…duh.”

But for me, it was a significant learning. From that point on, I still poured a lot into my teaching (because I loved it), but we made some significant shifts in our budget, time, and other resources towards the small groups, knowing that that was where God was taking the teaching and worship and fun and using them to truly impact the lives of students.

A while ago, my friend Casey sent me an article about the “Flipped Classroom” that I found fascinating and also made me think of how modern student ministries can learn the importance of personal engagement over powerful stage presentation.

Check out the information in the graphic below and also, I’ve made a few more than one mistake…it’s more like 2 or 3…gazillion…



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