Last week I had the great joy of hanging out with an amazing group of students. As a Youth Pastor your always trying to enter the world of your students. You want to know who they are, what makes them tick, and ultimately you want an opportunity to share Jesus. Over the years I have discovered that hanging out for food is one of the best ways to do just that. Food tends to lower Peoples guards. I’m not sure if it’s the vulnerability of eating, the distraction of the food, or the fact that it’s often free (because I’m paying for it), but something different happens when food is involved.
They Are More Open
I have been told the craziest of stories over a lunch or coffee. Students just keep talking and keep pouring out information. The trick is that you need to be ready with a few good questions. For years now I have asked the same three questions to get us started.
- How is your life?
- How is your love?
- How is your faith?
I always get asked, “what do you mean?” and I respond with “You can answer them any way you want”. The end result is always a lengthy conversation with a ton of rabbit trails.
They Are More Focused
We all know that students are distracted easily. When you can get them one-on-one or in a very small group the distraction point get significantly lower. However, you need to be patient for the answers to your questions. The student brain takes time to process information. Early on in my ministry career I would ask a question and then quickly answer it for them, often because I was to impact to wait for them.
Source Of Random Adventures
I have always believe that a fringe students is only one good conversation from being a core student, and a core students is one hangout away from being a contagious student. In my hangout last week with a few kids we ended up going thrift shopping and off to the pet store. The conversations on the way there, the pictures we took along the way, and moments you “just had to be there for”. Have created a deeper relationship with these students. The root of that relationship started at Wendy’s over 2 hours earlier. When I walked into the Wendy’s I knew it was going to be a good day, but nothing could have prepared me for the relationships, joy and randomness of our adventures, and I owe it to food.
The Ministry Of Food
As Youth Pastors we can get caught up in the “church” side of ministry and that side is vitally important to the eternal destination of our students. However, I have found that when I build in to the “relationship” side of ministry with the same passion and zeal as the “church” side. Amazing things can happen for God, and most of the time it has been over food.