Back in the 1980s I wrote a regular column for a publication under the name of Bubba, and called it Greetings From Stumpy Point. Stumpy Point was a small, fictitious church where Bubba was the youth pastor. If you've ever struggled with communicating with your students one-on-one, then Bubba actually had some good advice to offer. Here's one of my favorite columns from 1989:
Hello again, Grapevine readers! Do you often feel uncomfortable trying to visit with your high school or middle school youth? Sometimes we get the picture in our minds that when we are one-on-one with our kids we need to be doing one of three things- evangelizing, counselling or advertising. We don't want to miss a chance to lead them to Christ, to turn their lives around or to promote our youth groups. And certainly all of those things are important. But none of that is really visiting with your youth. When you visit you should talk about the things they want to talk about in a setting that they are comfortable in.
Here's an example of how NOT to visit! About a year ago I asked one of my high school guys, Elroy, to come see me at the church. He stopped by, came in my office and sat down. He looked like a man before a judge about to be sentenced. For the next 45 minutes I talked about my youth program and how it could help Elroy. He blinked and nodded a few times and then left quickly when our time was up. It took me almost a year to get Elroy to come back. But I learned from my mistakes, and after a few more disasters I figured out that my office was not the right place. It was MY turf. Visits should take place on theirs! So now I do most of my visits at Bart's Burger Doodle over a milk shake. I have learned that the true value of one-on-one time with youth is not in what I say, but in what I hear! - Bubba
Make sure that in addition to seeing your students at church that you see them on their turf- school, home and places they love to hang out. It will change your relationship with them and open doors for you to share Jesus in a whole new way. Have a great weekend!