Meeting up with a youth for the first time can be somewhat intimidating. You want them to be part of your group, hope they like you and you’re trying to make a great impression. Seriously, sometime I feel more pressure than I did when I first met my wife. Maybe you are meeting with them because their parents wanted you to meet them first, or they have been around group but haven’t really connected with anyone and you want to help. Whatever the reason, knowing what to say and what to do in those conversations can make a lasting impression.
Make a Connection
By making a connection to the life of a youth you show that you are interested in them and care. This may take asking questions about what they like to do, favorite activity, future goals. Start sharing some of yours too; it is not an interview, but a conversation together. Remember to have fun and laugh. Some of the first questions that I ask may seem silly but they help to ease tension and break the ice. Ask them about school, who there best friend is (sometimes it is easier to talk about other people than it is to talk about ourselves), what is there favorite type of movie, or what they are currently binge watching on Netflix.
Do Something Together
Don’t just have this conversation sitting at the kitchen table or in your office. Go out and do something together. Go hiking, out to lunch, grab a coffee, or even play catch with a football. We can create barriers when we sit across from someone, barriers of authority and division. Yet, when we do something alongside one another, barriers begin to fall and genuine relationships begin to form.
Invite Them to What is Next
After you meet with the youth, exchange numbers with them and invite them to the next event. Attend the event with them, have them sit with you and show some excitement that they are there. After the first meet up, text in a few days and just see how they are doing. Follow up with any questions they asked or any part of the conversation that was left opened. You are trying to build a relationship that will allow you to help them grow in faith and in life. Don’t just hang out with them once and bail, but be consistent with your time and presence in their lives.