As a youth worker, nothing was more exciting to me than getting out of the church, out of my office, and reaching students in public schools. I never found much success doing that behind my desk, with the expectation that they would come to me, participate in my youth program, on my turf. Meeting students in their everyday environment, during their everyday life, is important. It also gives you more time to build relationships.
I wanted to hear from other youth workers how they reach teens in public schools. So, I texted some of my all time favorite, rock star youth workers. I learned a lot. Just understanding their approach gave me new ideas. I was also encouraged to know that out of all the youth pastors I texted, 100% of them are going beyond the walls of the church.
Here’s the question I texted: How do you reach teens in public school?
Wes: Very carefully. No, I go on campus as a school volunteer, not wearing my pastor hat. I’ve been a hall monitor, assembly counselor, stuff like that.
Michelle: Be normal! We offer to help/volunteer at the school. We also reach teens by collaborating with FCA and Young Life. Find out who is already on campus and collaborate.
Carrie: Well, I tried reaching students by bringing a big bag of fries onto campus. I got to know a few kids that way, and one came to youth group, but overall it wasn’t very “successful”. We’re working with a student and teacher sponsor to create a discussion group after school and during lunch. We’ll use a video series that will spark discussion. We will let them talk, and we will listen.
Mike: Youth workers share similar goals with schools. A good administrator wants the maximum number of caring and safe adults involved with their kids. I introduce myself to the school administrator. This allows me to collaborate with the school where they need me.
Gabe: By spending lunch on campus with middle school students or going to lunch with high school students, I can build relationships. From there, I start attending their sporting events and performances to support them. I use the “belong before believe” method. Often, teens will start sharing questions they have about God. This is when I have the opportunity to share my faith.
Here’s what I love about all of these texts. It is clear that none of these youth workers are looking to just check the “saved” box. They don’t walk onto a school campus thinking about their own agenda. These youth workers are successfully reaching kids in public school by aligning themselves with the school, and collaborating with already existing clubs. They aren’t in a hurry to fast track teens to Jesus. They are mindful, building relationships, and introducing Jesus in positive ways.
Join the conversation. How are you reaching teens in public schools?
Praying for you today as you reach out to teens!