8 Things Every Youth Leader Should Know
Don’t Ask Boring Questions
If you have trouble connecting with students – join the club. Why must everything be boiled down to one-word answers? On that note, try to avoid yes or no questions. I am reminded of a time I was trying to have small talk with a middle schooler (I know, that was my first mistake). I asked how school was – good. I asked if they enjoyed their classes – sometimes. I asked what their favorite subject was – I got a shrug. Another leader happened to walk by and saw my struggle. He said, “If someone had a katana to your throat and asked you what your favorite subject in school is, what would you tell them?” The student instantly blurted out, “ENGLISH!” What a pro.
Switch Up Your Small Group Time
Depending on what format your youth group has, chances are you have some time with a smaller group of students to discuss things on a more personal level. I’ve been in small groups where the kids came in like a wrecking ball, destroying paper handouts, smashing treats into the carpet, even eating crayons! It was all I could do to just keep them slightly under control, let alone have a productive conversation with them. I’ve also been a part of small groups that stretched on for an eternity while no one answered the question and we just stared at the floor until I gave up and awkwardly moved on to the next one. How do you get your kids to participate? Trial and error. Lots of trials and errors. Try out different methods of discussion – make it a work of art and hand out sheets of paper for students to write or draw on instead of answering out loud, play a game that incorporates answers and questions, have a mock trial, the list goes on and on. Check out this site for an awesome list of ways to get teens talking!
Preach The Truth In Sound Bytes
Your kids don’t just sit at home and read their Bible 24/7. Neither do you. Find out what social media channels they are on – Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, gchat, youtube… the list goes on and on. Use these platforms to your advantage! Kids often reveal more in their Instagram stories than they do during youth group. Plus, there are a ton of encouraging and truthful things you can send to your students and fill their social media time with good things and true thoughts.
Take Them Seriously
Far too often we feel like youth ministry is preparing kids to do great things when they grow up. But that is not true! We are equipping these students to do great things for God’s kingdom right now. They can reach people we can’t, and they can do a better job of it. A lot of times we encourage kids to invite their friends to church, and while that is good, it’s also incomplete. It gives the message that they need to get their friends to come listen to an adult do all the heavy lifting when it comes to evangalism. Really, we should be giving kids the confidence to have their own ministry in school, at home, on the field, and wherever they go. This starts by taking them seriously and acknowledging the weight of their world and their problems.