Dr. Crompton started my last collegiate semester by telling me I was the producer of my own education. How much was he being paid for me to teach myself? Of course, what he said was 100% true. Dr. Crompton helped me learn my education was on me. I chose to study, I chose to work hard, I chose to come to class, I chose to learn, or I didn’t.
Dr. Crompton’s posture is what the youth development community calls scaffolding. Educators, for example, will give their students just as much support as he or she needs to equip their students to learn. You teach them the formula, you show them problem solving techniques, and you diagram a sentence with them. Students then may choose to solve the problem or write persuasively.
Just as scaffolding is built around a structure to help construction, so too, youth developers work to support youth in their development. Scaffolding is built, knowing it will not be there forever. Children ministry workers, parents, and the aunts and uncles in our world your goal is to support. The youth we love succeed when we accept our role as their support and not as their producer. Dr. Crompton was right, I needed him to guide me and not to provide me the answer.
As a youth development principle this has to be transferrable to a discussion in your kids ministry. Start with these ideas.
- Pray for your kids’ growth and spiritual development. Simply said, our God does the growth, you do not. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)
- Focus on the process. Instead of saying our kids do not know enough scripture, ask yourself how can I help our kids learn scripture.
- Foster mentor relationships. Scaffolding works best in one-on-one scenarios. Mentors can understand individual youth and tailor support to the youth’s specific needs.
- Ask kids what they want. Youth voice is paramount. Scaffolding means you give the kids ownership of their growth, which is impossible without listening.
- Learn from a scaffolding rockstar. You know someone who great at this. Learn from what they do. Ask this rockstar to help you help your kids.
Special thanks to Dr. Crompton, Odis Luper, Wade Graves, Scotty Voight, Dr. Edwards, Derek Sutt, David and Beth Spindle, and countless others who could fill this page as my scaffolding rockstars.