5 steps to connect with a student
There is no formula for relationships, but there are some key steps are principles that God will use to build a relationship between a leader & a student which can be used to grow that student’s relationship with the Lord in truly life changing ways.
I. Search & engage the new & disconnected
God describes Himself as a shepherd who search out a lost or new sheep that is not even apart of His own flock. Even more so, if a new sheep comes into our flock we ought to search them out. This means as leaders we must be the most alert in the room to proactively search for new students or those who are alone lost. Then once identified we must be aggressive to put ourselves out there to greet & engage the student.
II. Have a quality conversation
A greeting is can be welcoming, but a conversation is what warms somebody up and opens their heart. The first conversation is what the student will use to begin to build their perception of the Youth Group, our leadership team, and even the church. It is important to make time for conversation, you cannot have a quality conversation with more than a few students. Therefore, be intentional and led by the Holy Spirit to engage the right students.
Beware of engaging the same students every week if it is causing you to neglect noticing & engaging new students or those who are struggling to connect.
Beware of engaging every student with a short greeting, but in turn leaving yourself unavailable to have quality conversations with students.
III. Gather their information
There have been countless students who show up and never return. This is caused by a lot of reasons, and many that are out of our control. But sometimes it’s simply because they are busy or not fully sold deciding to get plug into the youth and forget about us, or they don’t know the next step to connect. This is why gathering students’ information is so important.
It is important because it enables you as a leader to reach out to them during the week via text or social media.
It is important because it allows the student to receive texts about announcements and events when you input their information into the New Student Information Form.
IV. Use your phone
Not every student has social media or text, but if they do a text or message is one of the Youth Leader’s biggest & easiest ways to express care & interest in a student’s life. When we go out of our way to say something to a student out-of-the-blue it shows in that moment we were thinking of them, and that we care enough to take time outside of church to engage them.
Send them a text out-of-the-blue and direct message via Instagram are ideal to show personal care, but also commenting on their social media content or adding them to a group chat are also helpful.
Text and social media provide a connection that you can use to contact the student whether they show up to church or not. A “I missed you today”, or “how are you doing?” show the student that they matter and are missed.
V. Make disciples of Jesus
This is what it’s all about, discipleship is our mission. Now that we’ve connected and built a relationship with a student, it’s time to use it to grow their relationship with Jesus. There is no formula to disciple somebody, but there are key ingredients and principles. Your goal is to share to them the truth of Jesus and show them the love of Jesus.
1. Be faithful: The word says, “even when we are faithless, He (God) is faithful.” We should love students in this kind of way, whether students fall away or are hesitant to follow the Lord, we should be faithful to still be there for them. If a student is not receptive, this may mean you don’t invest so much time, but it does mean you still give them some time.
2. Take initiative: Don’t count on the student to bring up God, to get in the word, or to talk about how they are doing with the Lord. This does not mean we should only talk about God, but how can we disciple if we don’t talk about Him?
3. Stay consistent: You won’t go very far if you won’t stay very long. It is a true principle for many things including discipleship. Growth takes time, relationships take time, and it takes time for a student to build trust in you and God. It is better to connect with a student in a quality way once a month for years than to meet every week for a month. This consistency allows us to hold students accountable, build deeper relationships, to be available in their moment of need, and to display the faithfulness of God.
4. Pray hard: God will use our words to work in the heart of a student, but that is not the only way He will work. Therefore, whether they listen to us or not, God will always listen to our prayers. Pray often and hard for God to work in the life of the student, pray for knowledge about the student that can lead you to pray better or how to talk to them, and pray that God will grow in us love that never fails and wisdom from above.