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