Authentic encouragement is an important part of a successful youth ministry. Here are some tips to effectively encourage students.
1) BE SPECIFIC
Don’t just tell a student that they rock. Tell them why they rock. The more specific you are the more encouraging it is to the student.
2) DON’T BE or SOUND CONDESCENDING
It’s very easy to sound condescending when you are trying to be encouraging. Make sure that you are not talking down to them, and be aware of your tone. When in doubt practice the statement with yourself or another adult leader to test if it is condescending. I know that may seem weird, but it is better than inadvertently being condescending to a student when you are just trying to encourage them.
3) MEAN WHAT YOU SAY
Students can tell when you aren’t being sincere. Don’t try to fake it, mean what you say!
4) WATCH FOR THE MIDDLE STUDENTS
Middle Students are the students who are not the rough students, but also aren’t the really outgoing talented ones. These students are the most neglected, and need the most encouragement.
5) KEEP THE ATTENTION ON THEM
This is not the time to talk about yourself, or sneakily brag about yourself. This is all about them and for them.
6) ASSUME THEY ARE NOT GETTING ENCOURAGEMENT ANYWHERE ELSE
You may be the only person that ever encourages them. So go in with that mindset with every student, because it may be true.
7) ENCOURAGE OFTEN
Make encouraging a common practice in your life. You may not be a natural encourager, but the more you do it the easier it gets.
Derek Parson is the youth pastor at Shippensburg Church of the Nazarene in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. He has a youth ministry blog:www.youthministrycafe.com.