Great week at Middle School Camp!
We Saw 8 students give their lives to Jesus. We served communities damaged by a recent Tornado, shared the love of Jesus with children and the elderly, and learned about the heart of a Servant Leader.
Help! My Volunteers are Afraid of Students
The key to speaking into students’ lives is to build relationships with them. I tell our staff all the time, “Be a leader worth following.” Leaders worth following build relationships based on one goal: seeing a student grow closer to the Lord. Relationships can start out fun and crazy, but they need to have a goal, a point when the youth worker asks the student to make changes in his or her life based on God’s word. The students will be willing to only if youth workers have taken the time to invest in them.
Relationship building comes easy for many youth workers—it’s why we got into the ministry. We have a passion for students. But your volunteers may not come by it as easily as you do. Training volunteers is tough. Many of them have a heart for service but are afraid of students. Here are some of the techniques I teach my own staff.
Students have to get your time if you’re going to get their hearts. Find out what they like to do and do it with them. It’s best if you can find an activity that you both enjoy. Sit where students sit. Be around them, hang out in their world, and they will want to know why you are there.
“Students have to get your time if you’re going to get their hearts.”
Discover a Student
Students are just waiting to be discovered. They want someone to unmask them and bring them out. When you discover them, they’ll give you their heart. At LeaderTreks our staff play a game called 100 questions. Whenever they spend time with students working, doing dishes, or just hanging out, they ask students questions designed to uncover who they are. The game is simple. You start by asking a question about the clothes they are wearing and continue to ask questions based on their answers. The idea is to catch them off guard. They are always willing to talk about clothes or school, but before they know it, they are answering questions about their parents and their relationship with Jesus Christ. The 100 questions game is not a flashy or new idea, but it will do the job of discovering a student.
Writing notes is the most powerful way of making a shallow relationship deeper. When I was a youth pastor, I would try to write six notes a day. Sounds like a lot, but I could do it in 15 minutes. I kept the body of the note the same and changed words to fit the student. Every letter started with “I was praying for you today.” Then I would tell the student what I prayed. If I had seen them in a game or a play, I would mention that. But each letter was short. The power of the note is in how it’s delivered. Many times I would put notes in their cars or on their windshields. If I could, I would find a way to get the notes in their lockers. The best way to deliver a letter is in a place where it is least expected. I have a youth pastor buddy who would take sick bags from planes and write notes on them and put them in the mail. He would often write, “I was sick about you missing youth group.” The postman would always deliver them!
Have a Purpose for the Relationship
Once you have developed a relationship with a student, never lose sight of the mission. Always use your conversations to challenge students to grow. Move the discussion to points of decisions. Ask students to make changes in their lives. Ask them if you can hold them accountable. Never lose your focus on growing the student.
The biggest mistake I see youth workers making is they think they know a student because they know the student’s other siblings or the student’s family. Don’t fall into this trap. Make sure you have spent the time to know each student with whom you have influence. You will demonstrate to them that the program is not about you but about them. Once you have their hearts you will be able to challenge them with whatever God puts in your heart.
About the Author
Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have a dog that thinks he is their only child. Diesel is a 70-pound Weimaraner who never leaves their side. Doug grew […]
The Passage We Are Munching On this Week
Why Did Jesus Wash Feet???
We are asking that question due to the fact that Jesus literally washed feet. If we are to literally follow in His footsteps, we might have the grand idea to start some sort of Mani-Pedi business for the Glory of God! However, any educated person will soon realize that the act of washing the feet is an example. Jesus clearly wanted his Disciples within the account of John 13 and now the Disciples in our present time to take away more than just the act of washing stinky feet of those that didn’t really want to have their feet washed by the TEACHER.
AHHHHH, TEACHER! Now, that sounds like a verbal cue that we can work with! That is why we keep coming back to the Word of God and keep learning. We know that Jesus is still teaching us today and had way deeper implications to his actions than the common, literal approach.
I really like what Tom Reinke’s Article says about the connection between Slaves and Foot Washing that ties in a deeper understanding that Jesus may have been teaching by His actions, leading to the Cross. (read Tom Reinke’s full article here)
Slaves and Foot Washing
For the sandal-wearing disciples, washing feet was a common cultural practice. It was proper hospitality to offer your guests a basin of water for their feet. But guests were usually expected to wash their own feet. Washing the dirt off someone else’s feet was a task reserved for only the lowest ranking Gentile servants, and Jewish slaves were often exempted from this duty. In a household without slaves, everyone washed his or her own feet.1
Yet Jesus willingly dropped to his knees in the position of this extra-lowly slave to wash the disciples’ feet in John 13:1–20. The disciples were immediately shocked, and it seems, embarrassed by this act of humility. But their surprise should be no surprise to us. “There is no instance in either Jewish or Greco-Roman sources of a superior washing the feet of an inferior.”2 And this was the Creator of the universe on his knees washing the dirt from the callused feet of his followers!
When Simon Peter refused to have his feet washed, Jesus said, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand” (John 13:7). Whatever the meaning of the foot washing, it was not immediately evident to the disciples. The washing provided an example of love towards one another (John 13:12–17), but it also forecasted something.
Hold that thought for one moment.
Slaves and Crucifixion
If foot washing was the task of the lowest slave, public crucifixion was a unique threat to the slave class. With few exceptions, Roman citizens and the upper classes were spared from crucifixion. Slaves were especially vulnerable.
Crucifixion was a public tool to discourage dishonesty, retaliation, and rebellion among the slave class.3 In 71 B.C., after a slave rebellion was suppressed in Spartacus, over 6,000 slaves were crucified together along the Via Appia between Capua and Rome.4 In other instances, if one slave was caught breaking the law, the entire slave community within a single household could be rounded up and crucified together, irrespective of individual guilt.5
So while the brutal punishment of crucifixion was used for dangerous criminals and for political insurrectionists (of which Jesus was accused), it was especially used to intimidate the slave class. Public crucifixions kept slaves in line. So much so that crucifixion eventually became known by a convenient circumlocution, “the slaves’ punishment.”
Slavery and crucifixion merged in the social consciousness, writes one author:
It is hardly an accident that crucifixion, the most dishonorable form of public humiliation that socially conscious Roman elites could employ in their efforts to punish and discourage rebellion among the lower classes, was so closely associated with slavery, the lowest class in the stratified social world of Roman antiquity. The juxtaposition of the two ideas — σταυρός [cross] and δούλος [slave] — served to compound the social stigma associated with both slavery and crucifixion in the ancient world and thereby to reinforce in the public arena the social hierarchy that served the interests of the dominant culture.6
Think Deeper and Look broader
Taking this view, we can look at what we are munching on and think with a broader view.
If Jesus, our Lord and Savior, has stepped down to the lowest place as that of a slave or servant, then we ought to step down to the lowest place as a slave or servant to Jesus Christ and serve others.
This is is the challenge in our own lives. As Jesus asked His Disciples to follow His example in John 13, He also calls us to do the same. Why did Jesus wash feet? To show us how to live a life that invites the Kingdom of God to come in our own lives and let the Father’s will be done in our present time.
- How can you best use social media to connect with Generation Z?
- What can this statistic tell you about what your Generation Z students value in an online experience?
Hey Parents, Dr. Tim Elmore has a great conversation with Clay Scroggins about Helping the Next Gen Win.
This past month, I was encouraged and entertained by teenagers who symbolized two completely different perspectives on life. I thought you’d enjoy them too, and perhaps learn what they teach us about adolescents today. I offer these two case studies below. Fasten your seatbelt.
Case Study One: Can You Post a Better Photo?
An 18-year-old girl who had escaped from an Australian correctional center responded to police after her mug shot was posted on Facebook. Did she turn herself in? Did she confess to what she’d done? Was she ready to come clean?
Nope. She simply wanted them to use a better photo of her on-line.
Yep, she did. She asked them to please use a prettier picture of her and even provided one for them to use. When Amy Sharp had escaped from Surry Hills Corrective Services Cell Complex on August 19th, police immediately posted mug shots of her, so people in the community could be on the lookout for her. That’s when Amy saw the photos and felt she didn’t look good enough. It wasn’t the kind of representation she was hoping for. So . . . she sent them a better picture. Perhaps it was a selfie, who knows?
Too often, Amy represents a population of teens who’ve bought into society’s values: style over substance. I’m sorry, Amy, but isn’t the mug shot the least of your worries? When did image become more important than integrity? Our culture unwittingly tells us: looking good is more important than doing good.
Case Study Two: Can We Have a Job?
Four young teens approached Zsa Zsa Heard, who works at the La Grange Housing Authority (in Georgia), and asked if she knew of any jobs they could do this summer. When Ms. Heard asked them why they wanted to work, she assumed they wanted to make a few extra bucks. They told her, however, that gang members were approaching them all the time, wanting them to join. They knew that would lead to trouble. So, they wanted to find work—to keep them out of trouble.
She hired all four of them on the spot.
The four teens, Dennis, Dylik, Jalen and Deion began working in construction, helping in the community garden, passing out mail and tending the chicken coup. And it’s paid off. Not only have they done what they’ve been asked to do, they’re now catching a vision for their future careers, after learning about construction and livestock.
The Young Men’s Priorities?
They want to do something that matters. They need opportunities and guidance, but they actually want to serve our community. What they need are adults (like Ms. Heard) who immediately spot their craving for meaning and productivity and satisfy it. She didn’t “give them something for nothing,” but she offered an opportunity to earn money as they used their gifts, time and energy.
Where do they get these perspectives?
Our Report Card: Five Test Questions
Where do our young adults pick up their attitudes and paradigms? You already know, don’t you? It’s from the world around them. Amy Sharp was conditioned to be consumed with improving her social media presence, instead of correcting her behavior. Dennis, Dylik, Jalen and Deion somehow understood that gang membership is a dead end street, but job experience is a path that leads to a goal. At their fork in the road, they talked each other into stepping into the Housing Authority and seeking out jobs.
Let me suggest five questions we should ask ourselves as educators and parents:
After Observing Your Students:
- What societal message do you see they’ve bought into?
- What opportunities could satisfy their need for growth and maturity?
- What incentives can you offer them to help them move in a healthy direction?
- What direction and wisdom will you provide for them?
- What one small step could send them in the right trajectory?
I love the story of the vacationers who visited an old village in Austria years ago. Upon meeting a local, the guests asked if any famous people had been born there. The local resident smiled and replied, “Nope, only babies.”
He was right. Every kid begins as a clean slate. They are soft clay with which to be molded by artists. What they become has a lot to do with the perspective we have offered them growing up. Let’s get this right.