Essential Benchmark 1
Forming relationships with young people is the "alpha exercise" of youth ministry. It involves making connections or moments where your life intersects with theirs. It also means using those connections to build up trust and acceptance.
It's like the purpose of a knot in a net. The strength of the net is effective when there are many knots. In the same way, our relationships or interactions are comprised of many different interactions—knots.
See people for who they are, and give them a chance to share themselves with you. Young people crave an invitation for real connections. Community. In order for youth to see the message we will convey about God, they need to be identified with and engaged as individuals. And they need to feel cared about.
Jesus gave us many examples of fostering relationships. Read Matthew 17:1 and John 13:23. Jesus spent quality time connecting with His disciples, especially with Peter, James and John.
Suggestions for NetWork
Here's what is involved.
1. Authentic conversation. Take time to ask young people questions that require more than responses such as "fine," and "good," or "yes," and "no." Find out what they like to do in their free time. Tell me about your family. What is the best thing that happened to you this week? Then listen for an opportunity to safely pry into another layer of that young person's life.
2. Make a master list. Make a list of all your young people. Include their phone number or email and their interests. Put this some place where you will see their names on a regular basis. Keep track of the last time you made a connection with that young person.
3. Pray. The easiest thing you can do in youth ministry is to interact with God about this person. This is something that we can always do at any point. The other side of this is that nothing good will grow unless we invite God. Use your master list to lift up each young person to God. Prayer deepens your connection to young people in ways that are intangible. Prayer will help you understand them, and praying for each by name will fasten them to you.
Want more relevant information on launching an effective youth ministry? Find "Out of the Shipyard" on our Resource page.