As I work with the adult volunteers, I continually am trying to teach and model a relationship-building concept that I call the “30 second and 3 minute conversations.” Allow me to explain the thinking behind the 30-second and 3-minute conversation concept – it helps us go after the feeling of genuine warmth and community when the ratio is at best 1 adult to 10 students.
In order for each youth to be personally greeted and engaged, it’s absolutely imperative that our adult volunteers are extremely intentional about our conversations with the youth. The adults are simply unable to engage in long conversations with each youth on Wednesday Nights, so we’ve put into practice the 30-second and 3-minute conversation concept.
When each youth walks into the church, they are greeted and engaged with at least one 30-second conversation. This 30-second conversation is designed to be an open-ended conversation with the youth. The adults ask questions like, “How is your week going?” or “How has your summer been?” or “What have you been doing for fun lately?” The questions are designed to let the youth talk about themselves and give the adults the opportunity to learn about the youth.
The 3-minute conversation is essentially taking the time to learn one story about the youth. The conversation may be longer or shorter than 3-minutes and that’s okay. The intent is to learn one story so that our adults can begin developing a relationship with our youth.
The final piece of this concept is this. If during the course of the 30-second and the 3-minute conversations the adult discovers that a longer conversation needs to take place, the next step is to invite and engage the youth in a Coke or Coffee date sometime later in the week. This allows the adult to continue to engage the other youth that are attending and allows the youth to be valued outside of the Wednesday Night worship experience.
If your adult volunteers can grasp this concept, then I believe meaningful relationships between the adults and youth can be developed. What do you think about the 30-second and 3-minute conversation concept? Would this work in your youth ministry?
John Howell is the utility pastor for Celebrate Church in Sioux Falls, SD which is a fancy way of saying that he does a little bit of everything, including working with and training adult volunteers in their youth ministry. Check out more of his stuff at http://www.johndhowell.com