So, you want to spend some extra time with a student because for some reason, this student really needs you. How do you make the time? Especially if you’re a volunteer with a regular job, it can be near impossible to find extra time to spend with students.
Here’s my solution: practice on-the-way youth ministry. We often think that spending time with a student means doing something special together, like having lunch, or playing ball. But these kind of activities take extra time. Why not take your student along when you’re doing something you need to do anyway?
I’ve taken students shopping, I’ve taken them with me when I brought my car to the shop, I’ve asked them to come babysit with me, I’ve asked them to help me clean up the youth room and I’ve had them drop me off at the airport. It’s on-the-way youth ministry, simply taking students along with something you need to do anyway.
Doug fields wrote about this as well in his classic Purpose-Driven Youth Ministry, he calls it the doghouse principle. He shares how he built a dog house with a student and how much that mattered to that student to just spend some time together.
I’ve found on-the-way youth ministry to be incredibly effective. Here’s why:
The first reason is obviously that it’s good use of your time. If you can combine two things, you save valuable time you can then spend on other things, like your family for instance.
You share your life
Another big plus is that you share you day-to-day life with your students. If they only see you in ‘church settings’, they can’t learn from you how to be a disciple in daily life. But if they see how you interact with the cashier at the grocery store, how you respond when your mechanic uses foul language, or how you relate to your kids, they get to see a whole new side of you.
Students talk easier
I’ve also discovered that students talk easier when we’re doing stuff together, because it doesn’t feel artificial to them. When you’re sitting opposite from each other at a table, it can create an artificial, ‘pastoral’ setting that feels heavy and unnatural to them. But when you sit in a car and talk, or talk when pushing a grocery cart around, the conversations flows far more naturally.
So the next time you need to mow the lawn, paint a fence, or run an errand, take a student with you and spend some time together. On-the-way youth ministry, it helps you and your students!
Do you practice on-the-way youth ministry? If so, which benefits do you see? If not, what is holding you back?