St John’s Youth

MarkStrategic Teaching Programme Idea
Mark Watson shares his vision


7 Checkpoints book cover

It is easy to fall into the trap of not planning ahead or thinking strategically about what we want to teach our young people. Very often we start a new term and say ‘what shall we do with the next six weeks?’ or ‘what are the young people struggling with at the moment?’, ‘what is currently topical or popular to talk about?’

Whilst it is important at times to plan sessions in response to the Holy Spirit and current situations, what would it look like if we took a more long term strategic look at our teaching? Instead of being reactive, we could be pro-active. After all I am sure we long to continue to see our young people equipped to live for God for their rest of their lives, not simply to get them through church or keep them in until they are 18.

So how about we take a step back and ask ourselves, what, in the time we have our young people for, do we want to teach them and equip them with in order to prepare them for living as disciples of Christ at the age of 18 when they leave the youth ministry and our care?

From this basic conviction Andy Stanley, Senior Pastor of Northpoint Community Church in the USA, has come up with seven key checkpoints he believes are vital for his young people’s development and growth in faith. Every year he teaches on all seven of these checkpoints, so even if a young only remains in the ministry for one year they will have a well-rounded view on what it looks like to be a disciple of Jesus.

He then has a wider plan in order to explore different aspects of those checkpoints over the seven years a young person could remain within the ministry. This approach has been adopted by the Youth Pastor of Zion Christian Centre in Halesowen over the last two years with great success. Youth for Christ are also implementing a similar program for their resources, Rock Solid, Lumen and Mettle.

Whilst both Zion Christian Centre and Youth for Christ have embraced this model they have also adapted the seven principles Andy Stanley presents to fit their young people, setting and vision.

Having spent time reading Andy Stanley’s book, in conversation with people who have executed this in their own youth ministry settings and praying about it and pondering it myself I believe it is a fantastic model for us to adopt within St John’s Youth. My heart is that we create a teaching program that means we intentionally invest in our young people giving them a deep understanding of the Christian faith, but also a well-rounded and balanced overview.

The idea of this is not to be restrictive but to bring freedom to our cell group material. To know that if we follow the principles set out we do not have to worry about what’s coming up next or wracking our brains for what key part of Christianity we’ve forgotten to tell the young people about. Instead, by having a broad theme and spectrum we can then approach the principles and teaching in a way specific for each of our groups of young people, devising material, getting creative and presenting it in a way that will be relevant and engaging, whilst still leaving space to be reactive when it is appropriate.

A further benefit is that it brings a sense of unity to the cell groups. Whilst split into smaller groups we would also be looking at the same topics at the same time. This allows for a sharing of creative ideas and plans between the team. For Authentic this means that Revolution meetings once a month can speak directly into what cell groups are looking at.

Compass and map


I wonder what our seven checkpoints or key principles would be?

I would love to hear your feedback on this model of teaching for St John’s Youth and what you think are the key principles that we should be teaching our young people at St John’s. Below are a few key questions adapted from Andy Stanley which may guide your thoughts and prayer:

  • If we could permanently imprint anything we wanted on our young people’s minds, what would it be?
  • What do our young people need to know? What is the irreducible minimum?
  • What is going to help them make wise choices when everyone else seems to be going down a different path?
  • What truths do we want our young people to be thinking about when they are sitting in their room during fresher’s week contemplating what to do that evening?

Please do prayerfully consider this and contact me with your thoughts at If you would like to read more you can borrow Andy Stanley’s book ‘The Seven Checkpoints’ from me or find it on Amazon!






23rd Jun 2015 Posted in: Hidden Posts by Stella Jennings 0

Leave a comment on this post:

Please Fill in the captcha so we can verify you're Human * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Copyright © 2011. St John's Church, Harborne, Birmingham. Registered Charity No 1132862. Terms and Conditions. User Login. Photo/image credits.