Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say to a young person after “hi; how are you?” but these short conversations are critical steps in getting to know the young people around you.
These ideas can help you start a short, casual conversation the next time you run into a young person at church or around town.
Any time of year:
“Have you found a faith community at college?”
- If yes: “Awesome! Tell me about it. What do you like most about it?”
- If no: “Is that something you’re looking for? Is there anything our church could do to help with that?” (Be sure to tell them about campus ministry and to look for churches of your denomination or similar denominations)
“Do you have podcast or music recommendations? What do you like about it?” “I’ve been reading/watching/listening to…”
“How is God (or the Holy Spirit) showing up in your life lately?” “Looking for God’s presence is something that really feeds my own faith life. I’ve seen God at work this week….”
“What’s giving you life these days? Or keeping you grounded, or feeding your soul?”
Around the Advent/Christmas season:
“What are you looking forward to this holiday season/while you’re home?”
“What’s your favorite Christmas carol? Why?” “Mine is….”
“What’s something you are hoping for in the coming year?” “For me, I’m hoping for…”
“What have you learned this semester (either in or outside the classroom) that will stick with you?”
From a pastor with prior experience in youth ministry:
I think the biggest thing is just to have an open posture to young people in the same way you might toward older people: Stay inquisitive, ask questions, and see how one question may naturally lead to another.
Another easy in with youth is to ask them for help, even if it is something very simple. Maybe you need help carrying the Easter lilies up to the chancel area — ask the youth to help you and then start with a simple, “Does your family celebrate Easter with any specific traditions?”
Here are some other ideas:
“It’s always good to see you in worship. I don’t know much about you beyond attending church here regularly, what do you like to do for fun?”
“It is always good to see you on a Sunday morning. Where do you attend school? What classes are you taking this semester? Which classes, if any, do you enjoy?” Some kids will say, “I don’t like school.” This is a perfect invitation to ask them another question: “Oh, I understand. Not everyone enjoys school. If you didn’t have to attend school, what would you rather be doing?”
“It is good to see you. I was thinking, I really don’t know you very well. Tell me a little about yourself. What is your family like?”
“It is good to see you. I’d like to get to know you a little better because I appreciate having you as a part of our church. Tell me what your friends would say about you. (wait for them to respond) That’s interesting! What do you and your friends do for fun?”