As I have grown up, I have learned many things about myself, that I love people, love Jesus and that when it comes to being loved, my primary love language is physical touch. I have been in Youth Ministry for 10 years now and as all of us can agree, if there is one thing students love to do it is flirt and hug each other.
Students respond to physical touch, but of course it needs to be done in an appropriate way. I have always been a fan of High Fives, fist pounds, and “Christian Side-Hugs” as a way to make a student feel welcomed and valued. What I didn’t understand was that there was even more value to these gestures than I realized.
Last week, a member of our congregation pulled me aside; she had seen me high-fiving students on Sunday morning and told me about a recent study she read. The study said that the brain receives and processes physical touch affirmation (high fives) faster than a spoken affirmation, which means that a high-five from me is received faster and more positively than a quick verbal affirmation.
As our student ministry starts to pick up momentum this fall: the reality is that there is less of me to go around to each student. It is good to know that I can communicate value to a student through a quick gesture that will mean something to them right away. We all know that a student is likely to make Youth Group a commitment as long as they feel valued and they belong. And for that reason – its High Fives All Around.
Geoff Stewart is the Youth Pastor at Peace Portal Alliance Church.