It’s that thing we always want more of, never seem to use effectively and yet is the best gift we can give to anyone. What is it? Time. Because it is so precious to all of us, it can become an amazing tool in being effective in reaching out to young people.

When I was training for Christian Youth Ministry with the Oasis Trust, fourteen years ago now, the buzz phrase in youth work was relational; a word I always struggled with. Not because I disagreed with it but I just struggled to see how youth work could be anything but relational.

Read more … Over time, however, I have seen that it is very easy for our work to become more about the group sessions, getting the programmes slick or even just getting through another week’s two hour session. What it should be about is spending time and sharing life with the young people God has given us responsibility for.

One of the most effective ways to keep the balance right is to set up a system of regularly meeting up with each of the young people, one-to-one. As you do this, think about your T.I.M.E.:

T – Team Take up the challenge of getting to know your group better as a team of leaders, whether that’s just you and one other leader or if you have a group of leaders. It is important that it becomes a value of your youth ministry that every leader takes time to get alongside and get to know the different young people.

I – Initiative The leader needs to take the initiative to invite a young person out for a coffee or on a trip to the local McDonalds. Obviously, you need to adhere to your church’s child protection policy on this. Good practice states you should meet in a public place and make sure another leader knows where and when you plan to meet. Initially, the teenager may be suspicious as to why you want to meet, but keep it casual and give them the freedom to not meet up if they don’t want to.

M – Meet up The meeting should be light and relaxed, don’t ask too many questions but just chat. If you’re not sure what to talk about, try asking what they think about the youth group, how it can be improved, how we can invite more people to it and what they think of the church. There will soon be plenty that comes up to talk about!

E – Evaluate Make sure you don’t keep all that you talked about to yourself but evaluate appropriately with the other leaders. This helps keep leaders accountable and also helps the team to be a part of all the individual meetings. If this doesn’t happen there can be a danger of competition amongst leaders or favouritism amongst the teenagers.

The first time you meet with a young person might not be particularly revealing but it will be significant for them. The fact that an adult has taken a positive interest in them will have profound effects, and will allow you to disciple them better as a result. Give it a go!

What have been your experiences of meeting up with individual young people? Leave a comment below.


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