Youth Ministry Nugget #9: Learn names.
One of the nuggets of wisdom I remember from my dad was to learn people’s names. It matters. When you remember their name, you are telling them they are important to you. Individually important. You’re not just telling them that the youth group in general is important, but that they individually have value. It takes work. A few of you are naturals but for the rest of us it takes work. You have to invest time, focus, and energy, but it is possible and it makes a difference.
Youth Ministry Nugget #10: Take notes.
You are not going to remember everything about your students. Take notes. Just like in class, when you wanted to remember something you wrote it down. Do the same with your kids. Then you have something to pray over during the week, and you can look over it before ministry events (Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings, whenever you meet). You can read over it and refresh your memory on what your students are going through. Obviously, do not leave it where anyone else can read it. And if something is important and private, then code it. Use initials or code words. But give yourself a chance to remember, because naturally we will forget.
Youth Ministry Nugget #11: Connect your students to the church.
Your youth group is not the church. If that is where students are connected, then when they go to college, they are now disconnected. When they turn 18, they no longer see their place in the church. So connect them. Build relationships with adults, with senior adults. There is such a wealth of wisdom there. When I was 19, I realized that I had grown up in church but had no idea what deacons did. I knew they took up the offering but that was all. None of them had spent any time with me. How is the next generation supposed to lead the church when we don’t know how it’s being led now? Connect your students to the leadership of the church. Have your pastor come teach or just spend time with your students. Have the worship pastor, or the discipleship pastor, or the senior adult pastor, come and hang out with your students. Hopefully there is a good reason those people are on staff and your students will benefit from being around them. And connect them downward as well. Encourage your students to know the children in your church. Few things light up a child’s life like being with an older student. They will begin not just to go to church, but to be the church.