There are a lot of great training resources available for youth workers to train and provide opportunities for their adult volunteers. Downloadable Youth Ministry & YM360 are two solid places to start.
I was in a conversation about this a couple days ago and it got me thinking about how I tend to communicate to volunteers in our ministry. What are the key starting points they need for ministry influence as they first sign up? Here are a few:
You can never under estimate the power of physical presence in a students life. They and you won't realize it day 1, but continual and intentional presence in the life of a teenager that so often feels overlooked, emotionally minimized and stereotyped by the world is one of THE biggest road block breakers we can have. To be present you have to be consistent. It's a stupid analogy but it rings true "Rome wasn't built in a day" and neither will your influence in the life of a teenager. But consistent & intentional time in the life of a student will bring effective ministry opportunities. Giving a student someone who won't bail because of a rumor, a misread text message or because a certain style of clothing option is a huge win for youth ministry health.
If you walk into a room and expect students to run up to you with open arms you'll be disappointed. So often leaders assume that the youth room is "the student's area to connect" and I call out a big fat BULLCRAP because the youth room/area is a key area where trusted & caring leaders can connect with students to point them to Jesus. It is an intentional mental shift leaders need to have! In our current culture where "connection" is related to a digital screen we need to model what a live & verbal conversation about life can be. Make eye contact, offer a high five or an appropriate physical touch. Be willing to show them they are worth your time, attention & energy and you WANT to be in their life. This doesn't mean the welcoming arms pop out immediately, but over time with being present it does happen.
It's within the first conversation or two I call out 1 of 2 elephant thoughts in the room of our adult leaders. It is either "students won't like me cause I'm the age of their parent" or "I'm insecure about what to say or how to act around a generation that I don't get".
Both of these feelings are valid but truthfully we have to say to ourselves WHO CARES! Who cares if they judge you, who cares if they assume you're here to be a moral watchdog in their life, who cares if you don't really understand their world. Throw all that out the window and ask yourself a more strategic question, "If I don't model and communicate with them the LOVE & LIFE CHANGING message of Jesus who will care enough to speak that truth in their life?"
See the key question isn't if a student cares about us, but do we care enough about them to risk to point them to Jesus?
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