Before this summer of ministry shifts into high gear, push reset on peer relationships among students. Teens want to be together, but an emerging byproduct of the pandemic experience is that they have kind of forgotten how to be together. Kick off summer with Communication Camp—a crash course in skills that build faith and friendships with roots.
Jesus is a master of relationships. He spends his ministry in one-on-ones, small groups, and crowds, telling vulnerable stories, engaging in listening and empathy skills, and sharing God‘s love with all he encounters. Lead students to follow in the footsteps of Jesus to get summer on the right path with these tips for communication basics.
Spruce Up Self-Talk
It’s no mystery that what we humans consume with our senses fills our brains with echoes. What we see and hear makes a lasting impact on what we repeat to ourselves. Quality communication with others starts with an understanding of our own worth and identity as a child of God. Invite students to immerse their hearts and minds in God’s words. Share Bible verses that remind them they are loved deeply, have purpose and gifts to share with the world, and belong.
Listen with Love
Active listening is a communication skill that can take discussions, and therefore friendships, to new levels. Split into pairs for exercises in verbal and non-verbal cues. Brainstorm and practice feedback phrases that indicate you are focused and paying attention. Give each student an opportunity to speak, as well as listen. Challenge listeners to withhold judgment and opinions, and be careful not to interrupt while their peers share.
God’s gift in Jesus extends an understanding of humanity that can only come from the experience of becoming flesh. Because he was human, Jesus knows temptation, understands the worries and emotions we experience, and relates to our weaknesses. Explore the power of empathy in a relationship. Try to match a speaker’s feelings—when they express joy, you express joy; when they are sad, join them in their sadness. Empathy helps us connect and understand what someone is going through in a new way.
Just Be Together
In scripture, we often see Jesus just being with others. There are a lot of meals, a lot of walking, and a lot of questions. As we reconnect, these are three great ways to be together: break bread, hike, and stay curious with your friends. Be intentionally present with one another and trust in God’s promise to be with us, wherever we are gathered.
Above all else in your ministry with students, listen for God’s voice. You’ll recognize it when you hear it.