By Justin Kinsley, Student Ministry Pastor
Being a youth pastor in the twenty-first century, I get a lot of questions from my adult volunteers. Most of the time I hear this question from my volunteers: “How can I be more relevant to the students in my small group?” Here is a list of four easy ways to up your “cool factor” as a student ministry volunteer.
1. Wear the Right Clothes
Nothing says “I’m cool” to today’s youth culture like a 40 year old strutting into church wearing jeans with useless holes and an old school 80’s t-shirt. Most of the appropriate clothing can be bought at your local Urban Outfitters clothing store. You may think to yourself, “Why would I pay, $120 for a pair of jeans that has 30 holes in it?” In order to reach today’s young people, you’ve got to think like they would. So instead of using the rational side of your brain, convince yourself that your mother gave you this money and that these jeans solidify your place as this year’s “Best Dressed” in the upcoming yearbook superlatives. And after all, doesn’t your mom want you to be happy?
2. Use the Right Lingo
When you walk in to your small group room for the evening, instead of saying “Hey! How are you guys doing this wonderful evening?”, like a real weirdo, use cool lingo like: “What’s up! This discussion gonna be lit!” By doing this, volunteers express to their students how in tune they are with the culture. Most teenagers today cannot understand what adults are talking about, because their vocabulary has changed dramatically since the time their parents were teenagers. This is why we see so many young people on their phones today. Students are always frantically looking up definitions to the words adults are using in their conversations to understand what they are saying. Relevant words include: lit (on fire), savage (totally cool), bae (girlfriend), dab-on-ya (disrespect), on fleek (perfection) and basic (typical/nothing special).
3. Drop the Bible Briefcase
Nothing hinders a student’s ability to adequately learn from God’s Word than a volunteer who is always unzipping their Bible briefcase to unveil a first edition Scofield Reference Bible. Yes I know that a Bible briefcase is absolutely practical, as it has pockets for your pens, highlighters, evangelism tracts, and can even store your Motorola flip phone. However, all of these items can be extremely distracting for today’s youth. You might be asking yourself, “What am I supposed to do with all my church bulletin’s from the past 3 years that I always keep in my Bible?” To relate to your students, book mark Faith Bible’s website on your internet browser.
4. Constantly be on Your Phone
There is no doubt that kids today are constantly on their phones. So as a volunteer, you too need to be constantly staring at your phone. In fact, instead of using your voice to talk about the Bible and how life is going, use a series of snapchats to describe tough theological topics. When picking which filter to use for your snaps, make sure to pick one that shows how trendy and relevant you are. Most importantly, DO NOT CONTACT STUDENTS ON FACEBOOK. Today’s youth don’t see Facebook as a place to connect, but instead it is a place where their mom and grandparent’s post cooking recipes and ‘like’ badly researched political articles.
All jokes aside, its actually really easy to be a relevant Student Ministry volunteer. All our students need is someone to hear them out, invest in their lives, and most importantly love them.