Wanted to share with you all an email I shared with my team. The idea behind it was to not just assume everyone was doing this or even comfortable with doing it. I wanted to bring it up so that we could become better at it as a team. If you are on staff this should be an area you want to grow in. That does not mean that it has to be your wheel house but it should be something you are trying to get better at. You must be a model to your volunteers and student leaders. There is nothing worse than someone telling someone else something to do that they aren’t willing to do themselves. Also, it’s just better for the ministry. Here it is:
I have been here for 5 months and I have met a lot of great students. In fact, at camp my intentions were to meet and connect with as many students as I could. I was very successful in my efforts and I made significant and life changing connections with students, which I know we all have in some way. About three weeks ago I started thinking about these relationships and how awesome they are, and how I can’t make it through the refinery without being called or hugged which is super awesome. I also started to think about the last student I introduced myself to that I didn’t know and with a genuine heart just wanted to show that kid the love of Christ for those few seconds of introduction. It’s been way too long and I have become super comfortable with the kids I know….which is great but sometimes being comfortable can become complacent.
I believe there is power in the hsm t-shirts. Meaning, when someone wearing an hsm t-shirt stops in the busyness of the weekend and introduces them self to a student it is huge for that student. I am in no way saying we have to get their life story or fix their problems in the five seconds of introduction. I do think in those five seconds we bring dignity and self-worth to some students who could be constantly rejected by parents and others. Which I can say after talking to so many of our students that God’s unconditional love is something that our students need. Now, if you are already doing this that is super great and I encourage you to continue. If your kind of like me…feeling comfortable with the students you know, super focused on the tasks of the weekend…..I ask that you would try every weekend to meet one new student you haven’t met before. Be intentional about showing God’s unconditional love in that moment (those five seconds or so). I believe this would make a huge impact on our ministry. Just something to think about –when was the last time you introduced yourself to a new student?
The health of your youth group is based on the relationships that are made. All roads lead back to connections. Students come to youth group based on some type of connection. They thrive in youth group is based off of some type of connection. Also, you must know that you can’t do it alone and instilling the importance of making connections and building relationships in your staff, volunteers and student leaders is crucial. You can do all the programing, teaching and leader training you want but at the core it should be about making new connections and strengthening existing ones.
I love reading about how Jesus connected with others. He saw everyone in need of the relationship He came to give. As a youth worker, paid or non paid, that’s how we should see every student that walks through our doors. They need the relationship that Jesus died for us to have. Now, no one person should be expected to meet and connect with a dozen of students at one time. If each leader, volunteer or even student leaders made a commitment to connect with one new student at a time the impact would be huge. Even if it was a student you saw all the time but never took the time to really connect with them, it would be huge for that student.
hope it helps