I recently started reading a book by Tim Stevens and Tony Morgan called: Simply Strategic Stuff. First of all, it’s great because the chapters a like a page and a half long. Second, they just are hitting on some key stuff within the church that I’m already jazzed about (and I’m only on #8 of 99!). Anyway, I know I’m like 6 or 7 years late on this book, but good stuff is good stuff, right? Absolutely.
Anyway, I was just thinking about things that I’m doing within my ministry to Jr. High students and thought I would periodically throw in my own “Simply Strategic – ___________” with a Jr. High twist. I don’t know how many of these I’m going to come up with, but you’ll know when you read them. So here’s my first of hopefully many Jr. High tidbits to help you out in your ministry (because they’re helping me with mine).
So; meeting with students. Usually we like to reserve this as a reactionary measure when something goes wrong in their life. We establish ourselves as “the fixer” with phrases like, “If you ever have something come up, give me a call.” And yes, that’s what we should be doing. We should be in their lives when they feel it’s falling apart (which can be anything from fighting with a best friend to accidentally erasing their contact list on their cell-phone.)
But something I’ve been challenged with since I started here at Wooster Grace is the idea that if the only time I’m getting across from students is when they have a crisis, then I’m missing it. First of all, a meeting with you will be more like a meeting with the principal than a meeting with their youth pastor. It will carry a negative conotation and then when you ask a student to get together when there isn’t a crisis, they believe that they’re in trouble.
A possible solution (or at least an idea) is to meet strategically with students all the time, when their life is somewhat stable. This accomplishes a couple things. First, it gives them a chance to interact with the “pastor” outside of the Sunday morning or Wednesday night setting and gives them a chance to see a different side of you and more than likely, you’ll see a different side of them as well. Next, it allows you to give one person your undivided attention for however long you meet. And if you have a group that’s bigger than 20, this is probably something that they’re not used to but desperately seek. Third (but not last) is that it lets you into their lives a little bit before the bomb drops and the relationship is already there when you need to make or receive the hard phone call.
Does this solve all my problems. Haha, does spell check catch all the mistakes in your papre? Of course not. But as we work towards having a hearing in students’ lives, this is a great way (that I’v’e found) to get that, and get across from some students that I otherwise would hardly interact with ever. So I try to meet with at least 4 students every week for about an hour at a time. We talk about the fair, how sports are going, LeBron James, and how their time with Jesus is going. It’s a chance to get a glimpse into their life because you never know when they’re going to need someone to talk to; and I want that person to be me (and of course, God.)
PS – I misspelled “paper” in the last paragraph on purpose. It was a feeble attempt at wit, and I understand if you never want to speak to me again. Just kidding, we can still chat. : )