One of the challenges of teaching kids and teens the Bible in a ministry environment is that we historically don’t do a lot of assessment. There are several valid reasons for not giving tests and quizzes to young people at church.
The problem remains though – how can we know if students are getting what they need from their Bible classes? Are we encouraging spiritual growth or are we merely glorified babysitters? Most importantly, what does each student need in addition to what we are already doing in order to have a strong spiritual foundation and reach their godly potential?
Instead of giving tests and quizzes in an attempt to measure spiritual growth in our Bible students, why not ask them to assess what they think is happening.
Spending time periodically asking students to think about their personal spiritual growth, what we can do to help and what we are doing that isn’t helping their spiritual growth is crucial.
Be aware though that many young people aren’t used to adults wanting to hear what they really think. They have been programmed to say what they think adults want to hear – which may or may not be totally true. With most teens, it’s important to spend some time reassuring them you want them to be honest, and that you will protect their privacy (make the feedback anonymous if it helps).
Other teens may have no experience reflecting on anything spiritual. They may not know if they have grown spiritually or not. They may guess or base their answers on how they feel rather than something concrete. Asking students to give examples or explain why they feel the way they do can help you better understand where they are spiritually.
When students give you honest feedback, don’t just ignore it. If you decide for example that a suggestion for weekly visits to Disney World that they think would help them grow closer to God, feel free to say “no”. Actually tell them though why you have decided not to provide whatever it is they believe they need.
Ultimately, that’s the goal of these assessments – not to grade students or decide whom you think can go to Heaven. The real purpose is to help you adapt your teaching and activities to better provide the things they need to grow closer to God and become more like He wants them to be. It really is worth your time and effort.