Let’s face it - regardless of your title at your local church (Youth Pastor, Youth Director, Youth Leader, Youth Minister, Student Mentor, the list of titles can go on forever), one thing I know for sure is that you have accepted a calling to help lead students within your local church. Every student ministry is unique and we all have a unique vision for our student ministry. Regardless of our unique visions that fit our student ministry, we all share one thing in common…WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE.
For two years, I have been blessed to serve and work with young people on a full time basis. Here are just a few things I have learned in the process of working with young people and what has helped us with our student ministry:
This is key for us when working with our young people. We started with a group of 20 students, and I decided from day one that we would build key relationships with every single one of these students. We have since then grown in various ways, but no matter what, relationships will always be important for us when working with young people. We live in times where students are connected to everything else but personal relationships. They may not tell you to your face, but they are looking for mentor relationships. I guarantee it.
2. Never give up on young people
God never gave up on me. Why would I give up on His people? We have to understand that the world, and everyone else, has given up on them. And now, their “mentor” is giving up…not cool! If you are willing to work with young people, not giving up on your students can and will get messy. When you see the fruit of the student you never gave up on, it will be so rewarding.
3. Don’t ever underestimate their potential
Always be on constant lookout for students you can work alongside, regardless of their age. When working with young people, it's a must that we don’t look at their age, but instead look at their potential and the possibility of them joining in with you to help you reach more students, change your city, and occupy all schools. Right now, the youngest student on our worship team is 12 years old, and the oldest is 18 years old. We are having a blast! Potential over age every time.
4. Be where students are
When you are building relationships with your students, like I mentioned earlier, it’s important to know what they are up to after school. Football, volleyball, basketball, chess, choir, band, ...the list can go on... but find out their schedule and be their number one fan. Plan a day and make it a point to show up and be there to support them. I know you can’t go to every single event, but you can send leaders on your behalf. Do what you can to be where students are. This helped us boost relationships with our students big time. And here’s a bonus… the students you showed up for (your student) will introduce you to their friends (potential new students) whom they’ve been inviting to student ministry nights. You get to personally invite them yourself. Now that’s awesome!
Noe Longoria is a passionate young leader who possesses the great combination of both influence and example. Starting with only a few students in their youth ministry a couple of years ago, today he leads a vibrant & growing youth ministry at Word In Season International in Harlingen, TX (www.wisichurch.org). He and his lovely wife, Maria are committed to winning, building, and sending students for Jesus Christ.