If there was one skill that I have grown into in the past year, its been calling students out. Calling them out for their actions, the words, their apathy, their judgment or just plain attitude. I love my students whole-heartedly, but there comes a time when I need to be the leader and not a friend and have a tough conversation with a student. How you handle these conversations can determine if they leave feeling loved or condemned and can dictate if they are going to stay or leave your group. Here is the way that teach our team to have these chats, its called “The Rebuke Sandwich” …

Slice 1 – Pull the student you need to talk to aside, away from their friends. Now before they know what hit them, affirm them! It could be a simple as the fact that you value the fact they attend, or it could be that you see leadership potential in them. Be sincere and truthful, but starting with something you appreciate about them is very disarming and will allow step two to happen much easier.

The Meat- Tell them what it is you are concerned about or which action or behavior needs to be addressed. Be factual and honest, this is the meat of the conversation so be sure that you are prepared with exactly what has spurred this conversation. This is the tough part because when students and people in general get called out, our pride is hurt and we get defensive, this could cause tears or anger or both. But no matter what happens, don’t pull the chute here or let them pull the chute on the conversation until you get through step three.

Slice 2 - Now its time to affirm them again, this is the most important part because they are likely feeling wounded or hurt, but they need to know they are loved. This is the step that shows them that despite the fact that you needed to speak to them about their behavior, it is truly in love that you are doing it when you can build them up after calling them out. Once again, it’s an affirmation that is sincere and truthful that could highlight a gifting you seen in them. **If you are a hugging youth group, now is the time.

The Rebuke sandwich is an effective tool for confronting to students because it builds them up, shows them what needs to change, and reminds them of your care for them. Confronting students is not easy or fun to do but having an honest conversation one on one is important and above all Biblical. I have found time and again that using the “Sandwich” can be very effective at resolving an issue and restoring the Pastor-student relationship quickly.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.