My times spent with kids in an un-programmed environment outside the walls of the church have been some of the most rewarding and effective discipleship moments for me. Youth group events are only one way to minister to kids.
With the new school year right around the corner, there are great opportunities to connect with your youth group kids and meet new students who need to hear about Jesus. These 12 ways to connect are divided into three main categories, each category moving to a deeper level of relationship.
Ways to meet new kids and hang out with current youth group kids
1. Volunteer coach a sport at a local school — Coaching gives you a chance to meet dozens of kids. I had the opportunity to coach track this past Spring and I still have kids who call or text me for advice or just want to talk.
2. Give out free food at lunch — Last Fall I bought a couple dozen tacos from Taco Bell and passed them out to kids at lunch, just asking for their name. I met tons of new kids, a few who I still keep up with.
3. Volunteer at a school club that fits your interest
4. Tutor for free — Some schools have after school tutoring, volunteer for that in a subject you know well.
Connect and develop relationships with kids
5. Ride with a sports team to away games — Great idea from the guys over at YL Help
6. Help a student work on a project or hobby — Especially helpful during science fair season, or other big school projects. Participating in their personal hobbies are great ways to connect, too.
7. Offer to drive a student to something they want to do
8. Meet a student’s friends and/or family — You can meet an exponential amount of kids by constantly meeting students’ friends and then meeting their friends. It takes time and effort but it’s well worth it.
Disciple kids/transfer life skills to kids
9. Ask a student to help you complete a project — Let them know you need their help and/or expertise.
10. Invite a kid to hang out with your friends and/or family — Let them know that you are human too, not just some guy or gal who still hangs out with high schoolers all the time. Exercise wisdom here and keep good boundaries.
11. Invite a student to help you lead a certain event, then evaluate it afterward — This is a great way to transfer leadership skills through hands-on learning. For example, I invited one kid to help me lead a video game night, asking him to consider “What do video games have to do with Jesus?” During our debrief time (which ended up going just as long as our video game time) we talked about video games as a means to build relationships and how relationships are key to evangelism and discipleship. I bet he learned more through that experience than any youth talk.
12. Be a student of God and invite a kid to learn with you — Pray with a kid, or listen to a sermon together, or read the Bible together. Be an avid learner and invite kids along to learn with you.
There are plenty of other ways to connect with kids. How are you planning to develop relationships with kids this new school year?
Nick Arnold is the youth pastor at New Hope Community Church in Sunland, CA. Hit up his blog at http://ministryallies.com and his Twitter @nickarnold.