How do you spend your one-on-one time with your youth?
How do you spend your one-on-one time with your youth? (Shutterstock)

I love the craziness of large groups where I get to see a bunch a students at once. I love mowing through the crowd, giving hugs and high fives and randomly having greeting tribal dance-offs with students.

But another element that I love—one that’s just as important—is having one-on-one time with students where we get to talk about Jesus and life. Unfortunately,  many youth workers struggle in this area and aren’t as comfortable with one-on-one interactions as they would like to be.

That’s why it’s important that, as a youth pastor, you implement the following three things in your quest to reach your church’s teens. These are a few things I’ve learned that have helped me in one-on-one situations.

1. Take control. Even though you want the student to share more than you, take control and facilitate. You will probably start off making small talk, which is great and sometimes the only thing needed; but sometimes you’ll want to guide the conversation to an area in which they need guidance or prayer.

I’ve found that students expect you to stir the conversation. I’ve also learned that my influence in their life grows when I show genuine concern for their lives.

Here’s an example of something I’ll do: Instead of just asking them how life is going for them, I’ll ask them to take a seat and then I’ll be specific about the areas I want to hear about. You’ll be surprised with the response you get. If a student doesn’t don’t have time, I’ll say, “great, let’s get together this week, “I’ll catch you on Facebook.” Then I’ll leave a message with specific questions for that student to answer. Again, you will be surprised at the response.

Just a word of caution, however: When communicating over social media, always think about context. My rule of thumb is to communicate as if their parents are sitting right by their side as they read what you’re sending.

2. Use discernment. Every time you get the opportunity to talk one-on-one with a student, consider it a golden moment. I’ve learned that you can burn that moment very quickly if you are not discerning of when to push the student and when to let an issue go.

Every conversation doesn’t have to be a come-to-Jesus moment. Again, sometimes small talk is all that’s needed , but you need to be able to discern that. You also need to be able to discern when a student needs to hear the truth of God’s Word.

3. Pray with them. This sounds like a no-brainer, but I don’t think we can stress this enough. What we pray for with our students sends a signal concerning what God cares about. If we only pray about the big stuff with them, then we are modeling that God only cares about the big stuff. God cares about the test they have that’s stressing them out. God cares about students performing at their best for a game that they have. He cares about it all.

We need to model that to them. So include all areas in which you can pray for them. I often hear people say that God’s got bigger things in this world to care about than their little situations. I wonder who modeled such a small view of God to them.

There are certainly more tips for improving your one-on-one time with students, but I wanted to hone in on the top three things that helps me get the most out of the time I spend with students. I have a lot of fun hanging with students, but I also know they need more than just fun. They need Jesus, and that’s the primary assignment God has given us as youth pastors.

Leaders are readers! Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman all for $24. YES - I'm a leader!

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Explorers require significant input.

    How to Receive Clarity When Torn Between Choices

    Decision making is risky without guidance from the Holy Spirit.

  • A new path is opening now.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Opening Doors for Kingdom-Minded Businesses

    Find out how to activate this prophetic word of increase in your company.

  • Lyndon Johnson

    63-Year-Old Law Still 'Threatens' Churches, Pastors

    Read why this law is so dangerous to the kingdom culture.

  • Do you have the proper training to be a soldier in God's army?

    The Training You Need as a Soldier in God's Army

    We are in already in a war. Let us enter the fight as fully trained soldiers with the full armor ...

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • Local congregations are called to become Christ-like in their methodology, mission and essence.

    10 Traits of the Jesus-Driven Church

    If we attempt to walk in these, we will leave a powerful imprint on the world around us.

  • Greeter ministry

    5 Common Greeter Mistakes to Correct in the New Year

    Like those involved in any other ministry, greeters can get in a rut.

  • Saddleback Church

    One Clear-Cut Sign Your Church Is Mature and Healthy

    A church's health is measured by its obedience to this important mandate, not by its seating ...

  • Evangelist John Burton

    What My Third Church Plant Might Look Like

    Here are some things Evangelist John Burton might change if he decided to start another church.

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders