How To Combat Student Busyness with Intentional Leadership

student busyness

Busyness is an epidemic for students and families. How do you fight this? The single best way is through intentional and effective leadership. Many youth workers complain students are too busy. Since we can’t choose how others use their time, maybe we should go to work on changing ourselves. There’s no silver bullet, but here are 9 areas that you can focus on personally to help your over extended students and families.

1) Communication

Good communication is one of your largest weapons against business. I don’t mean to swamp them with texts and emails or overload students and families with bits and pieces or half baked details. But, creative, concise and consistent communication is key to helping busy families make good decisions and plan ahead. As important as communicating dates and details months in advance is, good communication also casts vision about your goal and desire for the spiritual lives of students. Good communication allows your students and families to also cast vision in their home and to their friends – about the importance of being engaged and participating.

2) Motivation

Positive reinforcement brings positive habits. I once heard Nelson Searcy say, what gets celebrated, gets repeated. Don’t get upset with a family who didn’t make it to the event. Instead, build up those who did. Send a positive message to the students and families who made it a priority. Use bonuses for those who showed up – have to be here on this particular day to receive a t-shirt or whatever the bonus might be. Quiet rewards – buy ice cream for the small group that came that night. Think of other ways to reward students.

3) Invitation

Invite students to be there. Do you believe that they need to be there? Don’t say “no” for them. Don’t talk bad about those that don’t make it. Personal invitations are the best. Develop systems for inviting. Involve volunteers in the inviting process. If you have 30 students and five volunteers, have each of the volunteers invite 6 students with a text each week. What about physical invitations, fliers, posters, etc? Do they look nice? Are they inviting? Are you using good, clean graphics? Do you have correct details? Correct grammar? is a great place to get a cool graphic or poster for $5.00.

4) Presentation

A couple different approaches come to mind for presentation. How are you presenting the vision for youth ministry? Are you saying things like, ”where is everyone?” when 15 students are sitting right there? Are you intentional about the kinds of things you are inviting people to? The second aspect of presentation is yourself. Research documents if you are dressed the part, people will respond more favorably toward you. How do you look? What does your attitude and personal presentation say about the importance of what you are called to do?

5) Minimization

Have you considered your ministry may be “busy”. Make sure things you invite your students to participate in are rock solid and excellent in quality. Students and families will rearrange a lot for things they feel they are getting something from. What are the three things you do? What does it look like to be fully engaged in the student ministry at your church? Answering this question will help you pick out the important things.

6) Specification

Don’t even try to find the perfect date that will work for everyone. Think in terms of specific groups such as an event for guys or girls only. Maybe it’s an event for leadership students or an outreach event. Reach out to specific people as the need arises.

7) Intergeneration

Students are mimicking the adults around them. We are all too busy! What can you do to help draw families together and not apart? Bike trip with parents? A special youth meeting / celebration where everyone in the family can attend? Helping to connect the older generation in your congregation with some students for communication and mentorship?

8) Expectation

Set some deadlines for student ministry. Give people price breaks for early registration. Always begin on time and end on time. Develop a culture of being at church and attending. Call your leaders to be faithful and in worship. Set the bar high.

9) Be Pastoral (Pastoralization – if that’s a word)

I once heard someone give a great definition of a priest vs prophet. A prophet goes before people on behalf of God. A priest goes before God on behalf of the people. Do you catch the difference? The church needs both – for sure students do too! But, we can forget one of our main priorities as pastors, to go to God on behalf of our people. We need to becomes priests for the busy families in student ministry. Arrange and manage your time so that you can work in disciplined times of prayer. Pray for your students by name. Pray for students you don’t have in your group yet. Pray the homes. Pray for the schedules. Pray for rain on the nights that a sport practice conflicts with a major outreach that is planned. Pray that the students in your group would be able to figure out some harmony between all their activities and their spiritual lives. Pray for the schools. Pray for the leadership. Pray for more volunteers – more workers in the Harvest field. Create a specific prayer plan and put it on your calendar for each day of the week. Be a pastor to the families in your church. They need you.


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