Some of you already think this is terrible advice because you are a selfie hater, and others are overly excited about it. Okay, maybe you don’t have to actually take a selfie with a student, but the point is do something with your students to show them that you care about them. Take extra time and go out of your way to show interest in them and their lives. The tendency as a youth worker, especially if you are the main youth leader or youth pastor, is to get wrapped up in the programing and get so busy with making sure everything is running that we forget about caring for and building relationships with students. As youth workers we need to remember we are in the business of loving students and showing them Christ, not just showing them a great program. Here is what that might look like..
1. Be relational!
Plainly and simply, youth ministry is a relational ministry. I guarantee you have heard this before but it’s so true, students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. God has called us to be relational in our ministries and to live in such a way that our relationships point people toward Jesus. I understand this can be hard for some people and you do NOT have to have the super bubbly extrovert personality to build strong meaningful relationships with students. All it requires is a little bit of intentionality and a willingness to spend time pouring into students.
2. Do something to show students that you care about them and their lives
Take a little extra time to do something that students will remember for a long time. Go to one of their games. I still remember the times that my youth pastor or youth workers came to my games when I was in middle school, and high school. Showing up at just one of their sporting events for the whole season will be enough to show that you care about them and trust me they won’t forget it. Have conversations with students about themselves, ask questions about their lives and remember what they say so that the next week you can ask them about something specific in their lives. Take time to play a game with them at youth group, or maybe seriously do take a selfie with them or jump in the back of their group selfie. But do something to show students that you care about them personally and about their life.
3. Invest in something that will last
Invest in, and love on students. I honestly only remember two messages from high school and one message from middle school and I attended every Sunday and every mid week. But what I do remember is each one of my leaders and the time they spent investing in my life. In fact, if it wasn’t for some of them I might not be in ministry today.
Think about that. How much time are you spending on messages and programing vs. investing in students? Because chances are they won’t remember any of the messages in a few years or even a few weeks, but I am willing to bet that is the area you are spending the most time on. I am definitely NOT saying that the messages are not important, because they are very important and you SHOULD be spending a lot of time on them, but what I am saying is be conscious of the time you are spending and make sure that some of that time is spent relationally pouring into students lives.
Trust me, I am the most guilty when it comes to getting caught up in programming, making sure everything is going as planned, and just straight up busyness. But as youth workers we need to take a deep breath and realize that the importance of the perfect program is of less value than the relational impact you can have on students lives. So, if you are a selfie type person, or even if you aren’t but you are willing to step out of your comfort zone, do something to show your students that you care about them.