Three Lessons: Simplicity Rules. Grown Ups Matter. Hands On.

Kara Powell | Aug 23, 2013

“Mom, check out this paper airplane.”

We were in the Pacific Science Center, a truly amazing science Exploratorium geared for kids (but just as interesting to adults) during a quick overnight through Seattle.

There were hundreds (and I’m not exaggerating) of science related displays. But what captured our three kids more than anything else? Paper airplanes.

The first lesson I learned from our afternoon in the Science Center is Simplicity rules. There were lots of complex displays about butterflies, the human heart, and the properties of water, but our kids gravitated toward the simple.

Most every time after our kids tossed one of their newly created paper airplanes through a nearby hoop, they looked in the direction of Dave or me, wondering if we had seen their efforts.

The second lesson: Grown ups matter. Our kids wanted our approval, or at least to know that we were watching them.

The third lesson lies at the very heart of the Science Center. Everything, and I mean every single thing, that the Science Center offers is hands on. There are no lectures. No listening to teachers. No three-point talks. It’s all experiential learning.

Perhaps the biggest “aha” from my few hours in the Science Center is the power of hands on learning. Whether you’re a parent or a leader, what would happen to your teaching effectiveness if every thing you tried to teach included a hands on component? Instead of just talking about the Ten Commandments, your students somehow experienced what it means to have “no other gods” before they even left the room through a time of confession that was tactile. When explaining about how Jesus changed water into wine, what if students somehow got a taste (not of wine, just to clarify) of how Jesus provides for their needs, or lives from an abundance mindset instead of one of scarcity?

How are you trying to make your ministry hands on these days?

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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