Be Relational: One on one mentoring tips

One thing I believe youth ministers should be working into their schedules is a time where they can meet one on one with a student outside of the program.  I’m not necessarily saying hang out with the student, but we need to be able to bring the students outside the church building, outside the program format to talk about Jesus and share life.  It sounds intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be, it can be casual and informal.  Here are a few suggestions to keep it that way.

  • Think Watering Hole: Life change happened for the Samaritan Woman (John 4:1-28) at the well.  All she was doing was going to get some water and boom! she finds Jesus.  Now the interesting thing about this story is that the woman goes during midday which, was a time most people would be escaping the heat, so obviously she didn’t want to be seen.  Back then the watering hole (aka well) was also a place of socialization. I’ve heard it numerous times, I’m sure some of you have too, that today’s watering hole is the coffee shop.  When you walk into one you hear all types of conversation, from sports, to religion and politics.  Take a student there, meet with them and show them that there are public places where what you talk about isn’t judged, in fact at times it’s embraced.  You don’t have to take them to a coffee shop, but any public place breaks the myth that faith is talked about at church only.
  • Agenda vs. No Agenda: When meeting with a student one on one it feels like we have to have an agenda, like we have to teach them something.  In reality we do, but it doesn’t have to be as direct as we might think.  Meeting one on one with a student could just be to share life.  To talk about what’s going on, what’s happening, there doesn’t have to be a set agenda outside of sharing life with one another.  The important thing to do in a one on one situation is to show what Christian fellowship looks like.  So pray together, talk about the day and pray for one another.
  • Once, Twice Or Every Week: How often you meet with the student depends on the reasoning you are meeting with them.  If it’s a student leader it doesn’t have to be weekly it just needs to be consistent.  If it’s a student you know that needs a little reaching out, maybe you meet a few times in the span of a month or two.  It’s about making mentoring a habit, one where you can be free to move about, but something that is also built into the schedule.

Speaking, teaching, planning large events and working ministry from a large group aspect are important, but incomplete if you take the relational aspect out of it.  Even if you are the youth minister at a church with hundreds of students, you need to take time for one on one.  For those of us who find it intimidating I think we need helpful tips from those of us who thrive in the world of mentoring.  For those of you who do what would you suggest?