Youth Ministry is something very dear to my heart, because one of my passions is to see children and teens making Jesus the center of their lives. Sometimes in Youth Ministry, we can get carried away in doing programs and events like laser tagging, nerf wars, and pizza eating contests. While these things are fun and make many great memories, relationships are what make Youth Ministry, Youth Ministry. Even if the programming is lame, your Youth Ministry can be really healthy. From what I have learned in the short time of doing Youth ministry is that at the end of the day, relationships make a Youth Ministry healthy. Here are some ways to make relationship building easy whether you are a volunteer, or paid youth worker:
Remember Their Name
Surprisingly, remembering a students name can make them feel welcomed. Some children and teens very rarely get noticed, so you can be that difference in their lives by just saying “Hey Billy how are you” the next time you see that certain student after meeting them. It gives students a sense belonging because they are known, not looked over.
Ask “Real” Questions
When meeting new people, some of us think that it is hard to talk to them. You might say I tried talking to them, but they did not say anything back to me. Well, did you just ask them how are they doing, or did you ask them “real” questions? If you are wondering what these “real” questions are, here are some examples:
- Who is your favorite super hero and why?
- What was one awesome thing you did this week and why was it awesome?
- How many brothers and sisters do you have? What are they like?
- What are some hobbies you have?
- Are you a sports fan? If yes, what are your favorite sports?
- Do like gaming? What games do you play?
The list goes on from this. The key part is to go past the first part of the question and ask a second part to it. You are not forcing students to talk, but allowing them to open up a little bit to you and become comfortable enough to be a part of the group.
Go Be With Them
The most impactful thing you can do in relationship building is to go see your students. I remember when I was in middle school and high school, my youth pastor would always come see us all at lunch at least once a month. This made me feel good about myself, because he took a part of his day to come sit with me and others to show he loved us. It was just eating lunch, but it meant a lot. If there is a sporting event going on, invite a group of students to go with you. If your student is involved in sports or a performing art, then go see them perform. Invite students to go to dinner at a local restaurant. Relationships that are meaningful are built around spending quality time with your students.
Regardless of what you do, to see your Youth Ministry healthy that you are involved in whether you are a Youth Pastor or volunteer, you need to have strong relationships with your students.