Last time I asked you to go through three important questions. This time, let’s steal something from real estate and apply it to youth ministry.

In real estate there is one key rule: Location Location Location. It is where it’s located that matters. In youth ministry, especially when starting out, it is Relationship Relationship Relationship.

So, let’s take the first step

Here is the first thing you must do—and it is very, very important. Get to know your people. Find out about them as you spend time with them. A wise man with the last name of Bacon once said, “Knowledge is power.” Since bacon is awesome, and must be listened to, it is worth thinking about this quote. You must get to know as much about the place you are working as you can. What worked in the past? What didn’t? What about the previous youth leaders—why did they leave, how long did they stay? What are the hopes of the youth in the church for the youth group? What do their parents think?

You must get to know as many people as you can, as well as you can, as quickly as you can. For Canadians, this is where Timmie’s is your best friend. For Americans it’s Starbucks. For Aussies it is one of any of the 1,000 fantastic coffee houses within walking distance of your front door! Spend time in these places getting to know your volunteers, potential volunteers, youth in the church, parents of the above, staff members etc. In fact, by the end of your first month you should be so full of caffeinated beverages that your eyes glow.

You will also want to take the bold step of inviting yourself over to everyone’s house for lunch or dinner. I realize that this can be awkward, so tread carefully, but I probably don’t need to convince you of the value of sitting in a family’s home to gain some knowledge and appreciation of who they are. As soon as someone from the church says “we really should have you over for a meal” you grab your calendar and say “how about this Thursday?”

As you meet with people you must learn to ask the right questions and to listen, really listen to the person across the table from you. You must also take this opportunity to begin the job of earning their trust and their willingness to follow you.

Your needs:

  • Some $ to cover coffee (& meal?) expenses
  • The right set of questions

Suggested questions:

  • Tell me about yourself, where did/do you go to school? Was/is it a positive experience?
  • Tell me about your family?
  • Where are you in your relationship with Jesus? (How/when did you become a Christian?)
  • Describe for me what you like about youth group (if they are involved)?
  • What are some things that you would like to see happen in youth group?
  • Would you be able to be committed to the youth ministry regularly?
  • [For Parents/older people: Do you think you could give us some help at all?]

Now, get to it. Find those people and grab a coffee!