It’s been said that, “The best offense is a good defense.” And while I understand the concept, I think it’s a tad bit different when it comes to working with students. Students, any day of the week will be coming to your service, event, or Bible study with their defenses up. It’s up to us to actively look to break down their defenses in an attempt to see their heart open to what God might want to show them. Here are a couple ways to be effective as a “First Line of Offense:”
1. Smile – I’m not talking about the “Wow, I can see that you’ve never had your tonsils taken out” kind of smile. This is more of a, “Hey, it’s good to see you” kind of smile that let’s students know that they are appreciated when they arrive and missed when they’re gone.
2. Ask them about themselves – Students love talking about themselves. Check the stats, it’s true. Try to have some basic questions in your back-pocket (not literally; might seem a little forced) that you can ask any student at any time. Questions like, “What school do you go to?”, “What do you like to do for fun?” are great questions to ask someone you just met. If it’s a student that you know, ask them about the things you know about. If they play basketball, ask them how the season is going. If they’re into art, ask them if they’ve done any new projects lately. They’re waiting to tell you; just ask.
3. Laugh – Laughter is a great way to disarm people. Students are expecting church to be boring and a waste of time. If before they even hear a Scripture verse or a Bible story they are laughing at a story that you’re telling, consider them disarmed. And don’t wait for them to do it. You be the first to laugh, and they’ll be more likely to jump in with you.
Students have an uncanny ability to tell when leaders are genuinely interested or when they are just going through the motions. When they sense they are genuinely cared for and loved, they will be more likely to A. Come back, and B. Be disarmed. All because of our “First Line of Offense.”