A Team of Misfits: Helping Students Feel Like They Belong

Congrats to the San Francisco Giants.  The thing I love about baseball, that I love about most sports are the stroies that follow the athletes.  I like how Fox shows each player celebrate the final out, it shows that raw emotion we can all have in moments of joy.  The story that I enjoyed the most about this baseball postseason was how the Giants claimed themselves as misfits because they were a team filled with players who were cut, traded, benched and forgotten.  Together as a team they overcame the odds and here they are World Series Champions.  It makes me think about how many of our students feel like misfits and why they feel that way.  Is it because they ride the bench year after year? Is it because they aren’t making honor roll?  Is it because they feel ignored at home?  No one wants to be a misfit, but I’m willing to bet we have ministries filled with students who feel that way.  So what do we do with them?

  • Remind Them They’re Wanted: Many ways to do this but it starts with telling them that God designed them to have a relationship with them.  If there is something we need to remind students over and over again is that they are wanted by their Heavenly Father.  It doesn’t matter what they’ve done, who they are or where they come from, He wants to have a relationship with them and love them.
  • Give Them Vision, Give Them Purpose: Vision isn’t just for adults, it’s for our teens.  We need to figure out ways of incorporating our ministry’s vision into our messages, teachings and one on one conversations.  If you believe your ministry is meant to help grow the church, you need to give that to students because without them we have no church.  When they see the vision, they see the obstacles, they solve the problems, they have purpose.  With purpose we have reason to live.
  • Be Authentic, Build Relationships: I know I’m not alone on this philosophy but life change happens through relationships.  If we are going to bring people to Christ we need to be authentic in those relationships.  But our relationships are not just with the students, they are with the parents as well.  We are not suppose to replace parents or compete with them, we are here to be that extra voice, that supporting voice.  With authentic relationships we can show the students that not only does God want them as they are, but so does the church.  Through the church we can be strengthened in our faith and in God’s mission to go and make disciples.

Teenagers walking into our ministry might act like they have it together; however, some of them may be feeling different.  Jesus went after the lost sheep, we need to as well but how we do that may be different.  But no matter how we attract students to our ministry we need to change their mindset from being rejected to feeling accepted.  If we can do that we can put together a team of students who will take our ministry to a new level.  But let’s not just think about it, let’s talk about this, let share how it is we help the unwanted feel wanted, loved and accepted by Jesus Christ and His church.
So how do you help the misfits, feel like they fit into place with a relationship with God?