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Practical ideas for building relationships with your youth group

Building relationships with teenagersThe comments of my earlier post, “Why do kids come to youth group?” generated a lot of good practical ideas for building relationships with the kids in your youth group. Thanks for your contributions, guys! Here are some of the ideas:

Franklin Wood‘s suggestions:

What I’ve done this year is to write “PRAY” at the beginning of every day in my Day Planner. I know this sounds terrible, but it’s a reminder to me of what’s important. At about 3:30 PM, I’ve written “CALL KIDS” and I schedule nothing past this point.

I also printed up one page per student with one column “Date” and the other “topics discussed.” This is so that I can check records to keep myself somewhat accountable. I want to make sure I’m trying to call all the kids and not playing favorites. I also want to keep track of what’s going on in their lives so that next time I call, I can ask about our previous discussion.

Joy gave her input, as well:

A while back my Sr. Pastor asked me to start taking my teens out for lunch or something on a one-on-one or small group basis. At first i thought it would be weird and would turn me into some kind of santa claus always buying stuff, but it’s turned out to be a really good thing….

Another thing i do is divide the teens into small groups during prayer time. the teens are in the same group week after week so its the same people in their group, and they have the same adult leader each week too.

And of course the teens have my e-mail, instant messenger names, myspace, home phone, etc, and they know they can get in touch with me. And i try to send e-mails or postcards to the ones i feel like i’m not in touch with as much. After a while they get the idea that i really am acessible to them, so they’ll call or email me about random stuff.

Plus anything you do with the teens is building a relationship with them, and anything the teens work on together builds relationships between them. so our fun activities and minsitry teams are huge in this too. And whenever they invite me to something i try to go.

Mike’s ideas:

I try to go to the school every Wed. morning…. One good thing about living in a small town, like I do, is that it is super easy to get involved with school stuff. They are very open to me helping out and hanging around…. Being in the schools has been a great way to meet other students in the community and see the students in my group outside of “church stuff.”

I’ve also just hung out in the parking lot before school. For no other reason than to just be there if a student wants/needs to talk. One of the teachers asked me a few weeks ago about coming in before school while the students are waiting in the lunch room and being available to talk if needed. I wouldn’t do anything but just be there.

Here are some of my ideas:

  • Find out what video games your kids play online and join them in it. They love beating up their youth pastor!
  • If you played the same sport as one of your students, get together and show each other your skills.
  • Go to the kids’ concerts, games, recitals, and other performances. This is a great time to meet the parents, too.
  • Show up at their work-place. If they bag groceries, do your food shopping while they’re working at the grocery store. If they wait tables at a restaurant, eat out during their shift.
  • Invite them over to your house to watch a movie or play a game. Kids always love hanging out at their youth pastor’s house.
  • When you can’t find any areas of mutual interest to bond over, find out what they enjoy and ask them to teach you about it.

Posted on April 17, 2007

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  • You’ve added some great thoughts Tim. We’ve been able to do most of them (minus the food one, none of the students work at a restaurant except McD’s). Its helped a bunch to go to the sports events, get to see students, parents and others in the community. This has been a big plus to me being in a small town. Besides, when I go to sports events I go for the parents, not the teens.

  • I love the video gaming aspects. My students love trying to beat me in NCAA ’06. Great frustration in that they have not done it yet. Each time there is a challenge, people gather around.

    Good thoughts on a lot of them. Relationships are so vital.

  • I am not yet the youth pastor at my church but I hope to be soon. I want to get into the schools around the area. I wanted to hear from others, what the best way is to get into schools. If anyone could help or give input that would be great.

  • Tim

    Dustin, some schools may let you take pizza to the cafeteria at lunch time for your kids. That’s always a great way to meet new students, too. I’ll let others give some input here, too, though.

  • What is one of the best things to say to the principle of the school about you wanting to get involved in the lives of the students at the school? You may know or you may not. I was just wondering.

  • Mr. ____________ or Mrs. ___________________. I just wanted to introduce myself to you. My name is Dustin Wilson and I work as a youth minister at ________________. I just wanted to let you know that i am here to serve this community and the school. Is there anything that the school needs help with in the area of chaperones: dances, sporting events, etc …..

    This will open up future conversations.

  • Thanks alot. I am going to try to get in the schools next week and see how things go from there.

  • Tim

    Try this:

    “Yo, yo, yo! Mah name be Dustin and I’m the new cat just chillin’ in da neighborhood, swingin’ wit all da homies and keepin’ it real, like what. If you cats require mah professional assistance in dis crib, you just give this brutha a holla and I got yo back.”

    Hmmm… Maybe Jeff’s response was better. ;)

  • I may just have to try this one out. I think it would work

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