I recently read an article about ministry that stated "make sure ministry is all about relationships (1)." This aspect is so important in Youth Ministry when you think about students and their home lives or lack of one, the friendships they have or don't have, and so on. However, this is just as true in ministry as whole.
"They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
I heard this phrase growing up often in regards to forming a relationship with someone in hopes of sharing the gospel with them. This method dates all the way back to the First Century and the approach Jesus took in His ministry. It was built on relationships. Jesus invested in people. Don't believe me? Read each one of the Gospels and examine Jesus' approach to people. The woman at the well (John 4)? Feeding of thousands (Matthew 14, Mark 8)? Eating with sinners (Mark 2:13-17)? The numerous healing? The miracles? He didn't do anything of these things for His own glory but to gain trust in those who He was ministering.
Being a Youth Minister, naturally I think of the students. They need solid adult influences in their lives. They need us to build relationships with them. Most importantly they need to know that we care. Remember, "They don't care how much you know until they know how much care." Be real with them! Share with them! Minister to them through your relationships.
Consider the following list as you begin to build relationships with the students at your congregation or the students you are involved with.
Fifteen Ways to Show Kids (Yours and Others') That You Care" from "The Sticky Faith Guide to Your Family" by Kara Powell:
- Ask them about school.
- Find out their extracurricular activity schedule and go to at least one game, recital, or show.
- Call them and sing to them on their birthday.
- Swing by their house with ice cream after they've had a spectacular day.
- Swing by their house with ice cream after they've had a lousy day.
- Keep your promises! (no matter how small)
- Text them and share your three favorite things about them.
- Find out their favorite candy and give it to them for no reason at all.
- Give them your undivided attention.
- Ask them how you can be praying for them. And then pray.
- A week after you asked them how you can be praying for them, loop back and find out how they're doing.
- Learn their top hobbies or interests and then connect them with someone you know who can teach them more about what's special to them,
- Let them choose the music in the car, and learn why they lean toward that style.
- Send them something - anything - in the mail.
- Give them your phone number and let them know they can call you at any time, whether they need help or just to talk.
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Andrew Thompson is the Youth and Family Minister at Rogersville Church of Christ. He is married to the beautiful, Joy Thompson (who is way out of his league!). They enjoy sharing life together, ministering to teens and families, football in Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide!), and musical theatre. Andrew is a proud supporter of sarcasm and dry sense of humors. Thank you for reading!