Meeting and Relating to Students

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In order to meet students, you need to go where students hang out and take the initiative to get to know them.

BIBLICAL BASIS

“We loved you so much we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well because you had become so dear to us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8 Consider the woman at the well. Jesus meets and befriends a Samaritan woman, addresses her need, and explains salvation to her. She is so changed by Jesus that she brings the whole town out to meet Him. As you think back over your life, who has had the most influence on you for the good?  Think through how you met this person and write down how this person influenced you.  Reflecting on this relationship can help you think through how you can have a positive influence on the teens you meet.

THE PROCESS

1. Know your purpose.

Your purpose is to share Christ and disciple those who respond. At the same time, your audience is made up of very relational people who live in a relational world. You will gain credibility and opportunities to share Jesus as you relate well in the student world.  It requires that you meet as many students as you can. You will have the opportunity to share the gospel with most of those acquaintances as time goes on.

2. Be yourself.

Don’t try to be someone you aren’t.  Students will relate to a variety of people.  The most important thing is that they know that you care about them and that you are comfortable with who God has made you to be.  Reflect on Biblical truths of who Christ says you are so that you have greater confidence in relating to students.  (See Ephesians 1-3 for some of these truths).

3. Be an insider – someone who gets to know the student culture and world.

An insider is someone who adjusts their conversations to the student’s interests rather than just their own; fitting in with them, not asking them to fit in with you.

4. Be casual but definite.

To be casual means that it is important to be relaxed and be yourself as you work among students. Enjoy yourself and enjoy them. To be definite means that you remember your objective: to help the student learn more about a relationship with Jesus so they have the opportunity to receive Him as their Savior and Lord.  As you relate to them be prayerful, asking God to help you know when and how to turn your conversations to his spiritual need. You are not there just to be a buddy, but a spiritual leader and mentor.

5. Prepare to Meet Students

  • Prepare to meet students by looking in the high school yearbook, getting activities calendars, sports schedules, school newspapers, etc. Become a student of the school.
  • Identify the various relational groups, clubs, or cliques of students.
  • Rely on students you know to help meet others.
  • Pray daily for students, even though you don’t know them because this can lead to opportunities to share the gospel with them or God working through a student to reach them.
  • Learn the cultural norms of the school -i.e. what’s in, what’s not, how students think, etc.
  • Ask God to provide you with opportunities to meet students, and expect Him to lead you to students He has prepared.

A key to effectively reaching high school students is to be aware of their group orientation. When you meet a student, it’s important not only to get to know him but to find out what social, athletic, academic, or another type of group he’s in. Movement develops more naturally when we reach and mobilize natural groups of students.

PLAN AND BEGIN YOUR STRATEGY

1. Meet students with breadth in mind.

  1. The more students you meet, the greater opportunity you have for outreach. Look at your Mapping the Campus Worksheet to help you determine where you want to start meeting students. Ask your ministry coach for help in developing your plan.

2. Go where students are.

Here are some typical places to meet students:

  • School activities
  • Athletic and school events
  • Church
  • On the street where they are hanging out in the community
  • Other students’ homes
  • Assisting at school: coaching, school clubs
  • Shopping malls
  • Eating establishments

3. While talking with students it is important to:

  • Be a good listener.
  • Show an attitude of acceptance.
  • Don’t be the one doing most of the talking.
  • Ask perceptive questions about them.
  • Look for areas of common interest.

As you prepare to meet students think through some questions you could ask students.  Have these questions in your mind to help communicate that you care about the students and to help you feel more relaxed as you meet them. Here are some ideas:

  • So where are you from? Where did you grow up?
  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • Who are your closest friends? What do you do for fun?
  • What are your favorite movies, songs, video games, etc… (Barna research says this is what teenagers spend their time doing vastly beyond anything else in life).
  • What’s your family like? Who do you live with? Do you have
  • brothers and sisters? Do you like them?

The success of these questions will depend on how you ask them, and the follow-up questions you use based on their responses.  Brainstorm some of your own questions you’d like to ask.  For questions to help you transition to the gospel see “Turning the Conversation to Christ.”

As you find opportunities to talk to teens, remember to:

  • Try to talk with them concerning what is important to them whether it be music, basketball, philosophy on life. Ask them questions about life.
  • As you talk to them figure out what they are interested in and explore those topics more deeply. Be genuinely interested.
  • Let them know they can trust you. Then you will get to know them.  As they open up to you, you will find openings into their lives where you can share Jesus with them, like Jesus did with the woman at the well in John 4.

4. Rely on students you know to help you meet others.

Ask students you know to help you meet some of their friends. As you attend school or social events, ask students to introduce you to their friends, or just casually take the initiative to meet them. Challenge students in your small groups to reach out to a group of friends with you. Ask them to host or invite students to a pizza party, ice cream, etc.

5. Make prayer a priority.

Ask God to help you meet the students He wants you to meet.

6. Meet students who attend ministry events.

Talk with every new student you can at Cru High School Meetings and school meetings and events.

7. Be creative.

Team meetings, classroom speaking, creative outreaches, pick up ball games, hanging out at kid’s homes, coaching, helping with music and drama productions, etc. – all are ways you can meet students. Much of your ministry depends upon your willingness to be available, friendly, and the take the initiative.  This way you will always be meeting new students.

8. Aim to take someone with you.

Whether it is a student you know, a friend or community member who is a partner with your ministry.

APPLICATION

  • List the students you know.
  • List some places and ways you can get to know more students, particularly through students you already know
  • With your ministry coach, develop a plan to meet and reach out to some students you want to get to know, like the football team, cheerleaders, drama students, kids in choir, etc…

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What they’re saying about Cru

Students run in packs like fish run in schools. Ethnic, interests, sports, classes, and friendships naturally group the student world together. Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you a fisher of men.” Your school is a perfect place to present the love of Christ, because students will listen more readily and be most comfortable when they are within these natural groups. That’s why a good dose of creativity can open up opportunities for many students to hear.

The Right Environment

Remember the parties and sleepovers you used to have in junior high? Great videos! “TP-ing” the heck out of the neighborhood! Food! All night discussions on juicy topics! Kissing pillows and swapping most embarrassing stories. The right friends. A good place. Good video. It might be awhile since you gathered together like that. Did you know the same kinds of great fun and ideas can be turned into opportunities to share Christ? What made those times so memorable? Chances are it was the environment. You were totally relaxed in a setting that jazzed you. Your friends were safe people, well sort of at least until you went to sleep. First one to go to sleep always got the shaving cream and the hand in the warm water trick…remember? Ha! You’re gross! An evangelistic outreach needs to be on a turf that students know, enjoy and can make an escape from if it gets too hot. Remember, you’re sharing about Jesus Christ. Your church wouldn’t be the best place. Too many students have negative feelings about places of worship. Your youth worker’s grandmother’s place wouldn’t work either. I don’t care if she does have a nice living area, to replace the antiques you break would take seven years of allowances.

Great Places for an Outreach

Here are some ideas for places to hold an outreach:

  • Your place
  • Your friend’s place
  • A teacher’s classroom at school
  • A local pizza parlor
  • The gymnasium
  • Parks and recreational areas
  • The beach

It’s Gotta be Relevant

Along with the right place, you need a relevant topic to discuss. What’s that mean? Simply put, it has to hit a nerve in your friends, something they think about, or want to discuss. When they hear about it, they say to themselves, yea I want to take that further … A relevant topic will give credibility to your special gathering. Not only does the topic need to be relevant, but it has to be able to naturally lead into spiritual things. In other words, you could talk about how high the corn is getting, but how will you turn the conversation to spiritual things?

Outreach Topics

Some topics for your outreach might include:

  • Relationships
  • Getting Along with Parents
  • Goofy Stuff We Do
  • How to Have a Great Senior Year
  • Ten Things you Don’t Want to Do During Homecoming
  • What’s the X in X-mass?
  • Spring Fever – How to Cool It!
  • How to Tame Stress
  • How to Get Better Grades and Have More Fun
  • Easter Bunnies or Something Else?
  • Winning Over Worry
  • Your Personal Story

Get the drift? It’s gotta relate! Felt needs lead to real needs and an opportunity to share Jesus Christ in a way that your friends will want to listen. Once you’ve got your idea and location set you need to choose the kind of activity that you’ll invite them too. Most students want to come to an event that has some spark and sizzle. It’s gotta have food, and it should be uproariously fun! Christianity has taken a bad rap. They think we’re all constipated living on prunes and looking with wonder across the road at the world wishing we could play. Rubbish. Let’s show them that we can rock with the best of ‘em!

Activity Ideas

Here is a list of ideas that have actually been tried in real life … proceed at your own risk.

  • Burger Bash: Get a local fast food place to donate burgers, find a good band, and chow down. Your friends will love the party atmosphere.
  • Viking Dinner: This works well with both sexes. Have parents make as much food as possible, and the “guests” can only use their hands as utensils.
  • Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl: What could be more unique than rolling a frozen turkey at bowling pins in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday. Students love it!
  • Super Bowl Party: A great video which is produced each year featuring prominent athletes is easy to show during half-time.
  • Valentine’s Day Outreach: This highly social party type idea could be done in a home or at school. Don’t forget the long stemmed roses.

Helpful Tips on Evangelistic Events

  • Team up with several other Christians.
  • Publicize the event as broad as possible. Use through word of mouth, fliers, Internet and phone calls. Be persistent with some who may need multiple invites to show up.
  • Pray for the event before, during and afterwards.
  • Ask your parents to help you with those things you can’t get donated.
  • Be organized. Here’s a simple method: On a piece of paper have three lines:
    • What do I need to do?
    • When do I need to do it?
    • Who can help me?
  • Use comment cards. Use pre-printed cards or 3″ x 5″ cards to get the students’ response from your message. Include: Name, school, phone, and comments, then have them check one or more of the following:
    • [ ] I received Christ at this meeting.
    • [ ] I would like to grow as a Christian. Call me with details.
    • [ ] I’d like a related article about what you talked about tonight.
    • [ ] Contact me about the next meeting.

Answers to Most Asked Questions

What if I don’t have many non-Christian friends? A: Begin with those you do have. Start with simple outreaches and begin to build a broader base of friends. When they come to Christ you will have a broader base from which to invite others to future events.

How do I prepare a talk for one of these outreaches? A: It’s a lot like doing a research paper. Write up a simple three-point outline on your topic, and then research for the content. Always use your personal testimony as a transition between the content of your felt need topic and the gospel. Use tools to share a simple gospel presentation. You can use some ready made talks; simply adapt them to your audience and use current illustrations.

Review

  • The right place.
  • The right environment.
  • The right topic.
  • The right talk.