Gaining Trust, Connecting, Sharing…

Yesterday I shared with you a snippet or two from an interview I did where I was asked about everything from “taking care of visitors to our youth group” to “spiritual growth in today’s teenagers.”

You can catch my responses to those questions in yesterday’s blog, PART I.

Here’s the remainder of my answers during that interview. PART II:

Michael – OK
-What are some of the best ways to gain the trust of new unchurched students?

JONATHAN’S ANSWER:
Go beyond shaking hands and exchanging names. Actually take an interest in them. Sit with them. Invite them to join us in our small group. “We’re going to coffee afterwards- come with us.” “Text me- I’ll text you this week.”

I could go on, but honestly, my entire book CONNECT is devoted to helping us learn how to do this.

Jason – Dallas
– In your book “Connect” you talk a lot about getting to know kids on a one-on-one basis. Do you believe its possible to become so connected with students that they see you more as a peer and you lose your influence in their lives

JONATHAN’S ANSWER:
I think parents struggle with this as well. “If I spend too much time being their buddy, will I not be seen as their parent?”

I wonder if Christ was accused of that when he descended to earth to become human.

There’s no danger in humbling yourself to be relational- to listen, to laugh, to play. The only danger would be if you lower your standards and try to be something you’re not, or allow yourself to do something inappropriate in effort to “be accepted.” This is a twisting of a good thing. There’s never anything wrong with a coach, a parent, a teacher, or a youth worker spending time listening to a kid share their heart, throwing a Frisbee, cheering together at a football game, laughing through a comedy. I bet more kids wish their dads would be there to do these activities. These activities actually earn trust and help the kid respect dad, or coach, or pastor Jason when he has to put the foot down and say, “Sorry, but you’re not going to do that.”

Ashley – WI
-How can we equip and train our youth to witness and share the gospel with nonbelievers in their everyday lives?

JONATHAN’S ANSWER:
I think the reason most kids don’t share their faith is because they have nothing to share.

If we allow God to fill our cup, he’ll overflow it so much that it will spill everywhere and get everyone around us smelling like coffee.

My friend Kierra is so in love with God. She’s not an evangelist by any means. She’s just in love with God. Everywhere she go, she literally “reeks” God. She can’t help but talk about him. She went into a computer store to get her Dell fixed… as you need to do with any PC. A Muslim guy worked the counter. After talking with Kierra for just two minutes, he couldn’t help but say, “You’re really religious, yes?” It’s not because she wore cross ear rings or a shirt that said, “Kiss me, I’m Christian.” It’s because she couldn’t even turn in her computer without talking about how much she prayed that it would be fixable and how much she needed it for ministry, etc.

Next thing she knows, she’s in a conversation about God.

Everybody worships something. Think about it. What do you worship? Movies? Cars? Yourself?

We’ve all met people who worship their cars. All they can talk about is cars. You can’t have a conversation with this person without it touching the subject of automobiles.

Some people are hung up with their own sexuality. They can’t finish a sentence without talking about who they are sexually.

Kierra was that way with God. And guess what… she ended up talking with people about God.

We need to introduce people into a loving God, let them experience who he is so that God’s hope will be overflowing out of them. It’s only then that verses like I Peter 3:15-18 make sense when

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
So many people miss that in the verse. They concentrate on the “always be prepared” and they miss the golden nugget of how the conversation will start in the first place. “ask you to give a a reason for the hope that you have…”

Why would someone ask you to give a reason for the hope that you have???

Because they see it!

Now that they see it… now talk!

Oh… and as for the question, how can we train and equip… that’s how. Get them to “reek” hope! But yes.. then when someone asks them, “What’s different about you?” “What’s that hope?” then we need to be ready to answer. So read a book like my DO THEY RUN WHEN THEY SEE YOU COMING? Which is all about sharing our faith with “unchurched” people. Or Greg Stier’s “DARE TO SHARE” book. Great ways to articulate your faith.

If you enjoyed this, you can listen to the entire podcast here on the Students and Culture website.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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3 Responses to Gaining Trust, Connecting, Sharing…

  1. Greg says:

    great article…people forget the “gentleness and respect” part too : )

  2. Ben Terpstra says:

    Thank you for your imput on this often sensitive topic. My comment is on two issues: 1) All to often people that communicate the word of God have no joy! This is sad because everything in scripture points to a believer “Desiring God” craving Him with all their heart, soul and mind! if your one of those that isn’t having joy-another possibility is that you are saved but have been feasting on the wrong things!
    2) The second thing training is a great thing-from my experience hands on training, along with research has helped me communicate the best with the training. With teens study is good but opportunity (specific outing) with study is best!

  3. racking says:

    This is sad because everything in scripture points to a believer “Desiring God” craving Him with all their heart, soul and mind! if your one of those that isn’t having joy-another possibility is that you are saved but have been feasting on the wrong things!