A Little Relational Pep Talk

City Pres YouthI didn’t really intend this, but if you read my previous post, this one should connect with it, pertaining to the topic of relationships.

Are you fostering relationships with our kids? Let me put on the table right now that everything I will mention in this post I am the most guilty of. We have all said at some point, that our kids and students (of the church) are the future of our church. What are you doing to foster relationships with those students? I think many times we say it in passing, more as a catch phrase than something that has meaning behind it. Again, do you really foster relationships with the kids in our church? It can’t just be Jarrod Mason as the youth pastor who is tasked with our kids, or the person in charge of the nursery.

Take 3:28 out of your life and watch this now:

The world needs to stop being boring, hmm are we boring as adults? Yes. Please come to terms with that. Find a student in our youth group (it is small right now so it shouldn’t be too hard) and have a conversation with them. It will be awkward. It will be awkward, regardless of the fact that you are a parent or not. Most people are not articulate in having conversations with students. Don’t just tell them stories about your life, give them reflective questions, something they can really think about. Make this continual and build a relationship with students that can last to when they really are the future of City Pres.

I spend most of my day working with teachers. One thing I redundantly say is this: make every decision come full-circle back to students; always consider students. We are all guilty of forgetting what it was like to be a kid and instead, remembering our positions as adults. It doesn’t mean you tell them about what it was like when you were a kid. They have heard that. Don’t become the grandpa that tells stories about what things were like when he was a kid and how kids these days: blah, blah, blah. What it does mean is that you practice active listening, foster a relationship, and filter the vision of the church to students covertly. “Love people,” is part of our vision as a church. We talk a lot about loving those who are underprivileged. Let us not forget that our students are underprivileged as well. They are void of other mentors, that are not their parents, those that invest in their lives. Talk about the idea all you want, but how are you really doing that? I will be the first to say I am not doing it the way I should be.

Think back about when your parents told you not to stay out past 12:00 A.M. because that is when bad things happen. Maybe you tested the boundaries and eventually figured out your parents were right. Hearing such ideals from someone other than your parents speaks volumes. Another person can impart the same advice to a student and the advice is interpreted by a student a totally different way.

Parents don’t raise children, a church body raises children. This is how we (I say it collectively, myself being part of the whole) do it. We should invest in building relationships with them. The students in and outside of our church desperately seek relationships. Are you fostering that? Are you filtering the vision Doug mentions every Sunday to our students? If we are not, we are failing our kids, and then not raising them as a group.

Road less traveled. It is great to think of conceptually, pertaining to a wonderful poem. How often do we take the “road less traveled”? I will be the first to admit I do not take it all that often. The paved road is nice, smooth, and presents very few interruptions along the way. However, we can’t just tell kids to take the road less traveled, we have to model it. We have to share our frustrations, guilt, acknowledge our pride can be a weakness, and be real Christians to our students.

Is serving in the nursery a blessing or a curse to you? Consider it a blessing. You are beginning a relationship that can last for the next few decades. I fail to see it that way all too often. If we really want to, “Love God, Love People, and Love the City,” we have to first develop a strong culture among our church body. Students and kids are a vital part of that. Don’t just say it, live it.  I am talking more to myself than anyone who might care to read this.

In the words of Kid President, “You’ve just been pep talked.”

Jonathan Atchley