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

Do you ever wonder why some sports teams almost always have a winning season? They never seem to lose! If you are part of a team like that, it’s a great feeling! Their competitors hope and pray in vain that they will lose. How can these teams keep winning season after season? It usually goes back to a winning tradition built by a coach who knows how to develop people and a team. He’s always building the program from the ground up. Especially important to this coach is that the younger players understand and master the basics of the game. It is the mastery of these basics that are the building blocks for a winning team. Building an ongoing ministry on the campus is much the same. If we make sure the basics are being done and that their motivation is from God, then we will be doing what it takes to build a lasting ministry. My coach always told us that before we stepped onto the playing field, we had to have made a personal decision to give our best effort. You and your leadership team must make a similar decision before launching the ministry.
  1. Your team must be convinced that God wants to do something special through the ministry on campus.
  2. The team must be committed to trusting God and working hard to see a campus outreach succeed.
If you and your team agree with these two statements, then let’s look at a few of the basic building blocks of a growing ministry.

Pray Consistently

Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” Trusting God to see students’ lives changed is a spiritual work; God tells us that He is responsible to grow the ministry. We are tools that He uses, but the power for the work is in His hands. A big part of our work is to place the ministry and the lives of people in God’s hands and ask Him to do mighty acts. Enlist others – students and adults – to pray with you.

Develop a Sense of “Cause”

Have you ever seen pictures of people who chain themselves to trees so a big piece of machinery cannot advance and destroy some parcel of land? Or how about a man who stands in front of an army tank driven by his own countryman, daring him to advance the tank by killing him? These are examples of people who hold deep beliefs in a cause. For the ministry to grow, the ministry leadership will have to instill a similar sense of “cause” into the hearts of students. You do this by communicating why the ministry is important in clear and simple terms. Remind people that investing themselves in the souls of people is the most important thing we could possibly be involved in. Challenge students to make sure that their friends and peers will be with them in Heaven. Talk about the “cause” wherever you go.

Sow Broadly

Jesus told a parable about a farmer who went out one morning to sow some seed in his field. Some seed fell on hard ground, some on rocky ground, and other seed fell among the thorns. However, some seed fell on good soil and brought a great harvest. The idea is that the more seed we sow, the more will grow to maturity. I have a friend who is always seeing people he talks with pray and receive Christ. I was impressed with this and I asked him about his “secret” methods. He told me that he had no “secret,” only that he shared his faith many times to get the response. He saw many people trust Jesus because he told many more people about Him. The principle is simple – talk with as many people as you can about the Lord and the ministry. Some will not join you, but many others will.

Master the Basics

Have you heard the story of Vince Lombardi? He is widely accepted as one of the greatest football coaches of all time. At one point in his career, his championship caliber football team was struggling badly – instead of winning by large margins, they were losing to inferior teams. Coach Lombardi decided to start over. One morning at practice he held up a football and said, “gentlemen, this is a football.” These were professional players – but they had lost their grasp on some of the basics of the game. Your ministry team members do not have to own seminary degrees to excel in the work. Trust God greatly, dedicate yourself to a few basic things and the ministry will likely expand. Make it simple:
  • Pray.
  • Share your faith in Christ.
  • Build those who respond to Christ.
  • Train those who want to grow in Christ.
  • Give responsibility to students who can lead others spiritually.

Ask Many People to Be Involved

Telling lots of people about the Lord and the ministry (broad sowing) should result in interest from people at a number of different levels. Asking people to be involved is a big part of a growing group. Adults can provide homes to meet in and money for supplies and food. Christian students can join your leadership team; those who don’t know Christ are those whom you’ll seek to lead to God. Give away jobs to faithful people. Here are some roles people can fill:
  • Coordinate prayer.
  • Lead Bible studies.
  • Organize socials.
  • Plan outreaches.
  • Lead follow-up plans.
  • Coordinate adult helpers.
  • Coordinate meeting places.
As your campus movement implements these basic building blocks, you can be confident that God will use you to make a difference in the lives of many on your campus and grow your own relationship with Him as well.