You and your team are getting ready for the evening and in walks one of your students 25 minutes early. This is one good reason to be prepared without last minute work to do. But aside from that, how do you engage in conversation?
It needs to be natural and genuine, allowing your compassion to shine through no matter your personality.
But one principle is the idea of being an audience. Listen to students’ stories and thoughts. Laugh, pay attention and take note of them. I’ve been saying a long time now that students will gravitate toward the oldest person who will take them seriously.
Of course, conversations are two-way, but your students would love to have you listen more than just talk. They may like your stories, but I can almost guarantee they like to tell their stories better.
How can you create a culture of being an audience and truly listening to your students, especially in a limited time framework with multiple students?
Small groups, breaking off for discussion, taking time to invite questions, and social media response may all be ingredients to allowing kids to engage, but one great idea is great questions.
Here is a list of questions youth pastors can ask their students to initiate conversation:
- How’s life going?
- What’s up?
- Tell me something fun you did this week?
- What made you laugh today?
- What’s been going on at home?
- What do you think you will be in the future?
- Would you rather win $10,000 or let your best friend win $100,000?
- How’s work going?
- Can you tell me what [insert slang word here] means these days?
- Anything new in life?
- What’s your favorite smell?
- Which would you say is better – pets or humans?
- How have you been treating your parents lately?
- What are you learning about your faith?
- Where have you seen God today?
Just some ideas! As you grow in relationship with students, there are lots of ways to stay engaged in conversation, genuinely getting to know them and being an audience for them.
As always, carefully build relationships with students – with proper boundaries and accountability.
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