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A Different Way to Build Relationships With Students

Building relationships with students is one of the most important things we do as student pastors and youth workers. Even though it’s an important part of our ministry, it’s hard to do. Why? Because we are busy. Student ministry demands much more than just relationships with students. There are talks to prepare, events to plan, leaders to train, parents to partner with, and meetings to attend. Unfortunately we cannot sacrifice these things and hangout with students all day. So on top of our already busy schedules, we try and build relationships with students. There has to be a better way and I believe there is.

We need to start building relationships with students by having them join us in our day-to-day activities. Instead of planning something to go do with students (which is still a good, effective thing to do) we can invite them to join us for something we already have planned. It keeps us from adding another thing to our calendars, and gives them a glimpse into our daily lives.

For example, I planned to go hiking this weekend. It was really nice out, and I wanted to enjoy the outdoors by going on a hike at one of our local parks. So I texted a student, and called another, to invite them to join me. It ended up being one of the most successful relational connections I have ever had with students. It allowed me to do something I had already planned, and also gave me a chance to hangout with students. It was a casual day doing something I enjoy and hanging out with some of my students. Also, this helped those guys get a glimpse into my daily life. They got to hangout with me while doing something I enjoy. Also, it made them feel important that I would contact them and ask them to join me in doing something I had planned.

Student ministry is busy, especially if you are in a full-time position. Making relational connections with students is hard and takes time. So, start having students join you while you’re doing things you already had planned. Have them ride along with you as you run errands. Ask them to join you while you do something you enjoy. Let them get a glimpse into your daily life.

Build relationships with your students while you live your day-to-day life. Let them be a part of that. It will help you build stronger relationships with them, and may impact them in ways you’ll never know.  

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Austin McCann is currently the student ministries director at Christ Community Chapel (Stow Campus) in Stow, OH. He holds a Masters of Arts in Religion from Liberty University.