1. Have grace for yourself, and trust Christ IN you!
– When I focused on all the things I could have done better or the mistakes I made I became paralyzed and unable to minister to my students. I learned it was so important for me to have grace for myself and trust that God was bigger than that time I said too much, or didn’t say anything at all, and that He is in me, guiding and using me despite myself.
– Also, don’t be afraid to ask for advice! Talk to other leaders and pick their minds. The Lord has given us all different gifts. More than once I’ve found another leader’s approach to a certain topic helpful.
2. Meet the students where they’re at — full of grace.
– Over half my life group struggles with sex and drinking, BUT they keep coming to group. I try to challenge but never judge, and show them grace and love ALWAYS.
3. Be open and transparent about past struggles — with discretion, of course.
– The first time I met some of my girls was at Summer Camp. It wasn’t until later in the week when I opened up about my past relationships that the girls felt comfortable enough to let me in on the really difficult stuff they had been facing.
4. Hang out together outside of group.
– This helps foster community. The closer your students become as friends the easier it is for them to connect in your group on a deeper level. Even the students that wouldn’t normally bond find they enjoy each other’s company.
5. Hang out with your students one-on-one.
– This is where discipleship happens. In the beginning your students may be apprehensive so hang out two or three-on-one. This is where you have the chance to really hear their hearts and poor into them on a more personal level.
6. Encourage them and let them know you’re available.
– Never underestimate the power of a birthday card or a text letting them know they were missed when they didn’t show up for group that night!
Hope Schoen is an intern on the High School Ministry team at Saddleback Church.