At some undetermined point, many adults decided that students were little more than texting, tweeting Youtubers with personalities as deep as their abbreviated phrases and problems as serious as trying to fit a thought into 140 characters.
Have you spent some time with them?
That may be what you get on the surface – but if you spend, oh, I don’t know, an hour a week with them for six weeks — by week seven you’re getting all the depth and emotion and hurt and amazing they have to offer.
But many adults won’t go that far. They’ll have one…maybe two conversations at best. And then they’ll make a judgment and walk away.
Worse yet are the adults who don’t walk away – but who never talk any deeper than 140 character thoughts on sports or grades.. And the students who hang out with them week after week after week sit in silence. Plastic smiles. Laughter void of joy, Pain. And we play another game. We ask another pointless question. We slap them on the back and wish them well.
It’s a disgusting indictment worthy of a millstone. (And yes, I wrote that in less than 140 characters.)
So what’s in a name? Turns out…a whole lot. Especially at church.
I don’t know about most – but I am AWFUL at remembering names. Meredith, a girl in my last student ministry, was actually Kelsey. Oops. I think I called her Meredith for eight months….WITH HER CORRECTING ME EVERY SINGLE TIME! Names matter – and so we MUST know them. (I have a LOT more capital letters in this post than usual!)
Recently, I’ve been working with some students in a ministry who don’t know one another very well. So each week, we spend about 20 minutes or so just ‘meeting’ each other. For some students, it’s the very first time they have even spoken to one another. Last night, it occurred to me – we’re spending a lot of moments hearing about family, school, even favorite foods – but do they even know one another’s names?
Turns out some leaders assumed all the students knew the names of their ‘friends’ because the leaders all knew everyone. Most of the students knew the adult leader and the person sitting next to them – and no one else.
We tell students that Jesus loves them and knows them and wants a relationship with them. How does that translate when no one even knows their name?? Make space for students to TRULY meet one another. And make an effort to know their names….