We recently wrapped up a series called “You Are Here,” where we explored God’s purpose for our lives. The fifth week of the series was on serving—the why and how. Of course, we wouldn’t be able to finish a weekend on serving without a “call to action.” Normally, that would mean us having a ministry fair where students could go and sign up for the different teams that our ministry and our church have to offer. The problem with ministry fairs is that only half the students who write their names down on the sign-up sheets actually take their commitment seriously. There seemed to be something missing. When we reflected on it, we thought it stemmed from a misunderstanding of their SHAPE and a misunderstanding of what serving God means.

You can have as many ministry teams and service projects as you want, but if you don’t paint a good portrait of serving, you’re going to have some problems getting students out there. So during the weekend, we talked about how the students were created to serve. That each of us is created to be serving in our own unique ways. Instead of following this up with a ministry fair, we decided to provide our students with the opportunity to have one-on-one time with a staff member to talk about their own personal SHAPE and how they can start serving in their church, school, and community.

Throughout the week, my teammate Hannah and I have been meeting with students and have had some really awesome conversations. I would really recommend doing something similar to this. It has helped boost some of our ministry teams and it has helped me build new or stronger relationships with students in our ministry. Here are some things that I have learned while doing it:

-The goal is to help students see the big picture of their lives. They have all the pieces, they just need help putting them together. So the first part is getting them to talk about themselves so you can figure out all of their pieces. Here are a few of the questions that I usually ask:

  • Are you involved at your school?
  • Are you in any extra-curricular activities?
  • Have you ever served before? What was that experience like?
  • What do you think you are good at?
  • What do you love to do (anything counts here, even video games!)?
  • Have you ever thought about what your spiritual gifts might be (this one is always a long shot)?
  • Is there a particular people group that you have a passion for or a connection to (single mothers, hospitalized children, etc.)?
  • What’s your story?

-When you start suggesting serving ideas to them, keep in mind that serving doesn’t have to be joining a ministry team or coming to a service project. Serving can be them making better use of the situation that God has put them in. Meaning, serving for them could mean being a light on their soccer team or getting involved with their school’s Christian club. But feel free to push the student out of their comfort zone and offer some big things like a weekend serving retreat or even a mission trip!

-You also don’t have to have all of the answers for them during your first meeting. The one-on-ones are opening up a door of communication with the student in which both of you can follow up with each other later on.

If you haven’t heard of SHAPE or want more information about it, check out Doug Fields’ book “Congratulations…You’re Gifted!” It is an awesome read and a really helpful way to look at how God has designed us!