10 Ideas for Connecting With Students in Your Small Group

I’m always encouraging youth workers to build into students and find ways to connect with teens. In the past week, I’ve thought a lot more about how important it is for me to set staff up for success. If I don’t properly coach volunteers and share practical ways to do ministry, I’m inevitably setting them up to fail. With that in mind, I thought I’d jot down a number of quick ideas I had for developing relationships with students and share them with leaders.

Disclaimer: This list was written exclusively for small group leaders, but these tips could really apply to anyone who is looking to connect with teenagers.

 
10 Quick Ideas for Connecting With Students (in Your Small Group):

1. Start a Facebook group for your small group only.
Start a Facebook group and change the privacy settings to make it a closed group (“secret group”), which will allow you to share prayer requests, etc. and it will keep things private. Just keep close watch on your group and moderate what is posted.

2. Mentor them.
Each student really needs a mentor. Why not spend an hour with a student each week (or even 30 minutes!)? It’s really the best investment you could make with teens.

3. Post regularly (or even periodically) to the wall of your official Student Ministry Facebook page.
Sharing a brief message on the Student Ministry Facebook wall shows the excitement you have for your group and also may appeal to other students outside your small group that you might not otherwise reach.

4. Host a “girls only” or “guys only” (whichever applies to your group) event and get them to invite friends.
Hosting an event for your small group is a great way to build into your students.

5. Eat lunch with students (at school, on a weekend, etc.) or meet them for coffee or ice cream after school.
There is nothing like getting on their turf! Meeting up with students to grab a bite to eat or treat them goes a long way. (I’ve heard youth pastors like this too!)

6. Have dinner with their family.
This is a wonderful idea—if you can secure an invite from the family to come over for dinner. You get to see what life is like for the student (at home) and get to build into their parents too!

7. Attend their extracurricular activities (sports, dance, etc.). Students love when you support their interests. This is a great way to show you care … and let’s face it, sometimes you might be filling in the gap for their parent by sitting on the sidelines when the parent can’t make it to cheer on their child!

8. Send them text messages throughout the week (between Sundays\Wednesdays) to check in and encourage them.
Students really need to hear from caring adults throughout the week. Sending them a text or tweet during the week is a great way to show you are interested in them. Otherwise, your communication with them sounds like just a plea to get them to your event.

9. Work on a service project together.
Working a project together really helps create community within your group and will help you connect with students individually too!
 
10. Attend student events\programs you might not otherwise attend.
Don’t be content to limit your interaction with students to the one or two events or programs you are normally a part of. Why not surprise them by showing up to other youth ministry events to participate?

What other great tips and ideas would you add to this list?  

 

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Terrace Crawford
Terrace Crawford, a popular speaker and writer, is a channel editor here at ChurchLeaders.com. Terrace has been a mentor to students and youth workers for more than 15 years and connects with people everyday through his blog, www.terracecrawford.com and through twitter (@terracecrawford). He lives outside of Virginia Beach, VA.