I know you want to make sure that each student who enters your youth group or Sunday School has a great experience and feels at home in your group. There are certain things a Youth Leader should make sure is happening to enable that to happen.
Kids want to be accepted in a group immediately and feel comfortable when they walk into your youth room. So many times, no one speaks to them or sits with them.
Here are 10 Important Things a Youth Leader Should Be Doing.
1. Always remember to greet each student when they arrive.
Make students personally feel special and wanted. No one likes to go to a party or event and be ignored. Your youth groups is going to see this modeled before they’ll be accepting of someone new. Make sure your “stuff” is finished and you are free to greet and meet.
2. Make eye contact with students
What an easy thing to do but yet it can be so meaningful. Don’t just run by and say “hi”. Make sure to stop, look a teen right in the eye and say “hi”. Ask about them! Really be interested; ask questions. You might want to be “topic” ready; know which school teams won Friday night, keep aware fads, not to join in but to understand what’s going on. i.e Mannequin challenge, ALS bucket challenge, etc.
3. Find out the personal interests and talents
Think about it. Doesn’t it please you when someone takes an interest in what you consider a hobby? Students we work with are excited about their ball teams, their science projects, marching band, the place where they volunteer. . . . even their job. Find out all you can and be at any events you are able to attend.
4. Keep a journal of information on each student
A file with all the pertinent info on each student can come in handy. Besides, name, address and all the phone numbers, find out and keep a record of food allergies, special “likes” and “dislikes”, where their parents work, how many siblings and names. The list can become very large and doesn’t have to be invasive. Get the kids to fill out a questionnaire. They will be glad to do this for you. This is going to help immensely when you plan activities.
5. Visit the home of each student
Nothing will give one more insight into where a teen is “coming from” than personally visiting her at home. You can find out a lot about family struggles, meet her parents and siblings and see the interaction.
6. Host parent coffees
Get to know parents. This allows parents to meet each other also. I know as youth leaders, my husband, Mark and I felt like it was “the kids and us.” Our desire is to know the parents of the teens we work with personally. We can be on the same “team” for the success of the teens. Lots of times in our church families, we don’t have opportunity to meet other parents of students in a casual setting. They need to know each other. After all, they have something very much in common – they are parents of teens.
7. Head out for school games, events and even lunch time
You can build relationships with the school administration so they will allow you to visit your students. You don’t need permission to attend school events; they’re open to anyone. Go the extra mile and meet with the principal and let her know you want to help in any way you can. Offer to be an assistant coach, advise the school Bible club or anything else that might come up.
8. Acknowledge birthdays and special accomplishments
Everyone appreciates her birthday remembered – and not just on Facebook! Be bold! Send a card!
Make sure to stay on top of what they accomplish and post those newspaper articles on your youth bulletin board. You don’t have to dig through to find out this info. They (or their Moms will make sure you get that newspaper write-up if they know you are truly interested and it will go on the board.)
9. Open your home. Teens need to see what a great marriage looks like
Many of the kids in our youth groups do not know or have ever seen what a happy marriage looks like. You and your spouse can model that by letting them casually hang out in your home.
10. Be above reproach
Guard your testimony and guard yourself from Satan’s schemes. Many youth leader’s ministries have been destroyed because they have given Satan a foothold. As we make sure kids know we care, we always have to be aware that they can crush on you, tell lies about you and just totally misread your motives. Do these things with caution and be very transparent to everyone. Kids want to know you are human and God is working in your life. Share your struggles (not too personal) and how God has led you through.
- Don’t share personal struggles that you are presently going through
- Remember, Only open hugs
- Always remain visible to others when counseling. We call this counseling “privately, in the open”. You can be seen but not heard.
- Whenever you have to drive a student somewhere, always make sure you don’t go it alone. Transport multiple kids; take your spouse and your children with you in the car.
- When writing or acknowledging a student personally, sign from both you and your spouse. Never set yourself up for people misreading your motives. Use the term, “we” as much as possible.
We believe youth ministry is one of the most important ministries of the Church. Mark often says, “Why stoop to be a senior pastor if God has called you to be a youth pastor?” These kids are the spiritual leaders of tomorrow. Because of that, Satan attacks often and hard. He wants us to fail as leaders. Just as God has a wonderful plan for these kids’ lives, Satan also has a plan as stated in John 10:10 – “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
The most important and foremost thing we can do for our teens is PRAY! God can change the most rebellious, quiet, disinterested teen and renew him for God’s glory. He just wants our faithfulness in cooperating with His plan.
Teen Quest is here to help YOU, the youth leader in any way we can. Our team members are available to meet with you, your leaders, or your students. We have events and camps throughout the year to enable you to give your students a healthy balance of fun and challenge from the Word.
We can help you with your own event or you can join our program and we do it all for you. Contact us today and schedule your next upcoming fun! 814.444.9500
What have you found to be a youth leader should be doing to be effective?
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