We don’t have to look around us to much to see that there is so much at stake in the lives of students. Whether it’s the student who is seeking God to find purpose and meaning in life, or a student who is struggling through hurt and pain, or a sold-out student who is wondering how to stay strong in their faith, we have a window of opportunity to minister to these young people. There are only so many hours and opportunities to make a difference as these students navigate challenging obstacles. Or to put it this way: Time is crucial and we must make the most of crucial times as we minister to students
Because it is likely we only have few hours a week and a few years with these students (as well as having many students to minister to), it is crucial that we use our time wisely and well. Here is what I consider to be the most effective use of my time:
1) The first fifteen minutes At our youth program, I consider the first and last fifteen minutes to be the most important times. Often, it will be the first fifteen minutes that will communicate whether or not we really care as students arrive. It is usually the time when students are most nervous about walking into a room of students and leaders. Therefore, as leaders, even if we have not seen each other since the weekend, it is important that we do not get caught up in “leader conversations” as students arrive. Secondly, it’s important that we look out for nervous or introverted students as they arrive. You can’t take back a bad welcome…
2) The last fifteen minutes: The last fifteen minutes is often where I see students most open to God’s working in their lives. It is here where they will be most comfortable and will be processing what they have heard from the message / study. But, if you are like me, as the evening starts to wrap up, I am already thinking about evaluating what happened and begin conversations with leaders about how things went for them. However, it is important that we look to seek out students and check-in with how they are doing. It is here that we most likely to hear from their heart and be able to minister most effectively to them.
3) The next fifteen to sixty minutes: What I mean by this is the next contact time opportunity with students outside of programs and events. If you are full-time or a volunteer and have a number of students, it is often challenging to know how to reach them outside of your programs with limited time. However, I find that it is small (but impacting) times with students that make a huge difference. Examples like:
- Show up to the last part of a sports game if you have a busy week. (Make sure your student knows you were there).
- Send a note in the mail. With all the modes of communication we have, I find this to be the one students love the most. Everyone loves to get mail!
- Facebook, text, tweet! Letting students know you were praying for them, encouraging them, or just saying “hi” all go a long way to communicate care to them. Caution: Be careful of getting into deep conversations online and ensure that their parents are ok with you communicating with them this way.
I am sure you have better idea than these, and I know they are not rocket science, but I have found that so many leaders do not do these things regularly. The challenge is to realize that time is crucial and we must make the most of crucial times…