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As an extrovert there is nothing better than being surrounded by a crowd. People energize me and because of my outgoing behavior I have no problem being in the spot light either. While it’s good to be comfortable in front of the crowd we need to make sure we never loose focus on the individual.
For most youth ministries this means small groups and while they are great at creating intimacy and focus, I think we need to go deeper.
Small groups will create camaraderie and community; however, even in a room of four people someone can get lost. The ideal situation would be to set-up a mentorship program in your ministry; however, that requires more leaders and that takes time to build. In the mean there are still opportunities where you can focus on the individual without it consuming all of your time, such as:
- Writing A Letter: Nothing is better than receiving a hand written letter, because it communicates, “I took the time out of my day to talk to you.” This is especially important when a student leaves for a trip or college.
- Meeting For Lunch: Food brings us together in ways that are hard to explain. It slows down the conversation and depending on how you are sitting it creates a face to face interaction.
- Going For A Run/Hike: I know for us running is torture; however, if you can go out for a run, hike or something that exerts energy you’ll be surprised to learn what conversations will emerge. When we are tired we tend to let our guard down, which could be key to really getting to know someone.
- Calling Their Parent: Most of your communication to parents are through email, and text blasts that end up in most of their spam accounts. If you can take the time to call a parent (randomly) to talk about their teen, it shows that you are really there to partner with them.
- Student Leaders Emerging
- Parents Advocating On Your Behalf
- A Return Investment From Teens And Their Families
Before you get lost in the crowd this fall, take some time to pour into the teens around you. Set a goal for building a mentoring program in your ministry. And remember to focus on helping teens build individual relationships with Christ by focusing on them.
How do you focus on the individual in your ministry?