We want to hang out with students. That is obvious. We love it, otherwise we would not be doing what we are doing. But do they know that you are willing to hang out with them? Do they REALLY know? Or is it just an assumption. Like marriage, over communication is key.
Just this last week I was surprised by something that in my head was an obvious thing. I thought because I am a youth pastor and I get to hang out with students during our weekend services and at my small group during the week, that it was known I would be willing to hang out with students not only after a service or after small group. I have made it a point to try and hang out with a few students during the week just to hang. I have been sending out the invite and what I have found is that students are surprised I can/even want to. I thought this was a given!
The simple invite or even just letting them know you are available to them not only at group or services can be a huge turning point in your personal ministry with students. Just this last week I have over communicated that if students I am around that I am willing to hang, being very obvious, I have had 3 amazing conversations about life and God with students.
Here are some things I have intentionally been doing:
I don’t hang with girls: If a girl wants to hang to talk, I will talk with them about it there at service (depending on the topic) and then will call over a female staff member or volunteer to take over. Hanging out side one on one is a no-no. Obvious, but I want to make sure.
Don’t be afraid of Facebook chat: It scares me. I always am scared to initiate a conversation of a student I want to know more, whom I see always on the weekends or in my small group. If they are on, and you are on, why not? It can be a great ice breaker to ask them about themselves and how they have come to your ministry. Just this last week I got to have a great conversation on Facebook and then follow up in person at Starbucks. You’d be surprised how willing they are to talk because Facebook chat is how they communicate on the regular now anyways.
Inviting students to come hang in the offices: There are some weeks in which I am crazy busy and I can’t really get out because all of the administrative stuff I have to do. So I have been inviting students just to come hang in my office while I’m working. I just redid my office so now its even more inviting to come hang out. Last week I had 4 students in my office hanging out, listening to music, just talking about life and I was at my desk working at the same time. It was great.
Between service slurpee runs: We have two services Saturday night, and two services Sunday morning. Saturday nights, everyone goes to Chick-fil-a or In-N-Out so I make sure to go and be with students. But between our Sunday services we have students that are playing in the band or apart of the services and we have about 45 minutes before the next service. So I load up my car with students and we go to the AMPM across the street at 10:30am and get slurpees. I try to take different students every time but it has quickly become a tradition and students are wanting to go every week. I love it and it’s cheap.
the simple change of making sure my students know I’m wanting to and available to hang out and just BE with them has been so much fun. The last month my relational side of ministry has shot up in a huge way all because I made sure they KNEW I wanted to hang, not just assume that they knew.