Face to Face Time

Shoulder-to-shoulder opens doors to face-to-face.

YouthSpecialties.com just posted a new article of mine titled, You Mean I’m Actually Supposed to Play Dodgeball?

Yes… that’s kind of a loaded title. There’s been a lot of criticism in the youth ministry world in the last few years, shooting arrows at “old methods,” especially anything that has to do with fun and games. I’ve written plenty about how games can open doors to amazing ministry opportunities— no need to rehash. So I’ll just emphasize one simple point: the simple art of “playing” with young people can break down walls, and catalyze some great conversations.

Here’s just a snippet from my dodgeball article:

If you want a kid to open up to you in small group time and speak honestly… try playing with them. The toss of a football, sharing a small cardboard tray of cheesy nachos at a football game, the ambush of a cute 8th grade girl with a dodgeball—these activities all open doors to connecting with kids.

That’s the thing. It doesn’t really matter what activity: dodgeball, worshipping to Chris Tomlin or playing X-box. Make the investment of time playing side by side and you’ll yield the results of conversation. Shoulder-to-shoulder opens doors to face-to face.

Just saying! (Click here for the entire dodgeball article, or click here for more on relational ministry in my book, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation)

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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6 Responses to Face to Face Time

  1. Paul Loeffler says:

    I not only agree with this wholeheartedly, but would add that the same is true for time spent with your own teenage kids. If we’re only telling them what to do, and not playing with them, too, we’ll eventually lose their hearts.

  2. jon d. forrest says:

    “Shoulder to shoulder opens doors to face to face.” Holy Cuba Gooding Jr. that is golden. I am certainly not God’s gift to youth ministry, but I have had some success in seeing some pretty awesome disciples come out of my group. When people ask me what advice I’d give a youth worker I say avoid the group of 7 volunteers that congregates in the corner of every youth room in America. I know this is crazy but…. talk to the kids. Especially if you ever go speak to a group you don’t know, don’t hobknob (how do you spell that) with the band, don’t kick it with your old college buddy in the corner…. talk to kids. Jon Forrest S2S Ministries ( shoulder to shoulder) jk. Shoulder to shoulder leads to face to face… dadgummit, why didn’t I think of that.

  3. I don’t know that I would say that worshipping to Chris Tomlin was akin to playing a game on xbox though. Worship tends to be a bit more of a god-focused activity with not a lot of social conversation going on. Games and activities certainly create a fun and welcoming atmosphere, and when trying to initiate conversations with teens (especially uber-shy ones), a game certainly goes a long way.

    • Good note Benjamin… I understand the confusion. When I wrote it, I was thinking of me and a kid (my mom would kill me for that misuse of the English language) going to a concert together. Kinda fun… but worshipful too. The main point being that hanging out with a kid (which usually I think of as having ice cream with a kid, but could even mean sitting next to during youth group, or playing dodgeball) opens the doors to conversations. Cool?