How to Spend More Time With Students This Summer

Like many student pastors I struggle with finding time to hangout with students. In the summer I feel this struggle more than ever. During the school year most students are too busy to hangout with you anyways, but during the summer many of them are always looking for something to do. There are days when I’m in my office planning an event, answering emails, and recording money coming in for a mission trip and in the back of my head I know I could be out with some of our students building relationships. Let’s face it, you can’t leave the office and spend everyday with students this summer. If you do, you will probably get fired! But how do we manage hanging out with our students this summer while making sure all the office work gets done and our ministry doesn’t fall apart? Here are a few ideas that have helped me spend more time with my students this summer while still getting stuff done in the office.

Get to the office earlier. I wanted to mention this first so I could get it out of the way because honestly I suck at this one. I have managed to do it a few times this summer, but it’s always tough since I’m not a wake up at 5am to read your Bible and pray kind of guy! However, getting to your office early allows you to knock out some work while your students are sleeping in until noon. This way you can hangout with them during the afternoon while knowing you got much off the office work done during the morning.

Take them along with you. Awhile back I wrote about this idea of taking students along with you while you do stuff during the day. I’ve seen this work great so far this summer! A few weeks ago I needed to go to Walmart to buy some storage bins for some supplies and I decided to take two of my high school guys along. It was a great time to get to know them better and let them get a glimpse into my everyday life. I love doing this because it allows me to do what I need to do while still hanging out with students! It’s a no brainer! Take students with you when you do stuff during the day this summer!

Do stuff at night. During the summer students want to stay out late and rather be out doing something than sitting at home on Facebook or Twitter. So instead of hanging out with them during the day hangout with them at night! Have them over to your place or meet them for bowling or putt-putt. Either way, look for things you can do with them at night. This will allow you to get office work done during the day and then spend time with students at night. This summer I have been doing Monday night basketball with our high school guys at a local park. We start playing at 8:00 and play under the lights until 10:00. One caution here for married student pastors and youth workers, don’t sacrifice your spouse for this! You can click here to read more about my thoughts on keeping your spouse first in student ministry.

Take them out to lunch. Students love food and I do too so take them out to lunch! When noon hits your ready to get out of the office and grab some lunch so pick up a student or two and take them with you. I can guarantee that no student will turn you down if you call them and ask if they want to go to lunch and it’s on you! One thing to remember with this is don’t take a student out of the opposite sex if it’s just you two. If your married, have your spouse come with you or send them off to have lunch with a student of their same sex.

These are just a few ways I have been hanging out with students this summer while still getting stuff done in the office. Summer is such a great time to do relational ministry with your students, but it takes intentionally and discipline while you still have other things you need to do. What are some ways you are creatively spending time with students this summer?

Don’t Miss Out on Opportunities to Build Relationships with Your Students

It’s easy to overlook opportunities to build relationships when your a student pastor. Most of the time your so focused on your overall ministry that you forget the biggest impact you can have on a student for Jesus is in the form of a simple relationship. Students are not always looking for an event, awesome music, or even your well-prepared sermon. They are looking for relationships. A real relationship with a adult that loves them and will share their life with them. I was reminded of this simple truth the other day.

On Tuesday of last week all the schools in our area closed down due to hurricane Sandy. I saw one of the other student ministries directors at another campus of my church tweet about meeting up with some students for lunch. At that moment, it hit me. This was an opportunity to connect relationally with students. They will be out of school, have nothing to do, and are always down for some food. This was a great chance to spend a few hours with them over lunch building stronger relationships with them. But I’ll be honest, it wasn’t an easy dicision. Why? Because I had a million things to do for our “ministry” and my office was calling my name. But I made the choice that it would be more fruitful to spend a few hours with students at lunch rather than sit in my office and focus on some upcoming event. It was a good decision.

You may be wondering why I’m writing this. Is it to tell you how awesome my lunch was or how great it was to spend a few hours out of the office? No, I’m writing this to remind you that as a student pastor to not miss out on opportunities to build meaningful relationships with your students because of other “ministry” stuff. Building and investing in relationships with students is our ministry! Yes, we need to get stuff done and spend time in our office making sure our overall ministry is effective and well-done, but we must not sacrifice relationships with students. That is what our students need from us.

So next time you have an opportunity to be relational with students don’t miss it! You can afford to spend a few hours away from your office. The biggest impact you will make on a student will most likely come through a relationship you have built with them.

Starting Off Right in a New Student Pastor Position

As many of you may know from my last post, I am the new student pastor at Courtney Baptist Church in NC. I started this past Monday and have been using most of my week setting up my office and getting all my stuff there. Other than just moving my books and such to my office, I have been trying to do a few things this week to help me start off on the right foot at this new position. Here are a few things that I’m doing that I believe are things that will help you start off right in a new student pastor position:

Get to know the senior pastor. This is probably the biggest thing to do when starting a new student pastor position. Spend as much time as you can getting to know the senior pastor. Hopefully you have done a lot of this during the interview process, but get to know him as a person. Maybe leave ministry out of the conversation all together. Find out about his likes, dislikes, relationship with God, his family, his hobbies, and things like that. You will have plenty of meetings and time to talk to him about ministry, spend some time getting to know the person behind the “senior pastor” title.

Get your office set up like you want it. This may seem silly, but spend a few days getting your office set up exactly how you want it. The last thing you need is your office being set up over a span of three weeks while you’re trying to do student ministry. Make it your own place and get it the way you like it. You will be spending a lot of time planning, writing, meeting, and doing al your admin work there so make it comfortable. Make it a place where students, parents, and leaders can come and spend time with you.

Set up communication with leaders and parents. Make sure and spend some time getting your lines of communication set up. Try and get all the students, parents, and leaders phone number, Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail. These will be vital ways you will communicate with them so the faster you get it all set up the better. You may have to have a meeting with your parents and leaders to get this done and I would encourage you to do just that. Have a meeting and get to know your parents as well as leaders. Use part of that time getting all their contact info so you can start communicating with them on a regular basis. I am holding a parent/leader meeting next Sunday where I will share all my contact as well as get the contact information for all my parents and leaders. Once you got this, set up a database or document that hold all the contacts. Then you should be good to go!

Spend time preparing yourself spiritually. In all the craziness of starting a new position, don’t forget where your strength and effectiveness will really come from-God. Make sure you spend time preparing your heart and soul for the task ahead. You have students, parents, and leaders who are looking to you as a spiritual leader. Make sure your ready for that. Truth is, none of us are so make sure you go to the One who will make you ready.

These are just a few practical ways to start off right in a new student pastor position. Feel free to leave a comment and add your thoughts or other things you may think one should do when starting out in a new position.