3 Attitude Changes when meeting new students this fall [Contacting]
By Matt Coppess
Remember the first time you walked on to your school’s campus? Were you scared, intimidated, excited, or maybe just not sure what to expect? Did you pray first? Did you have others praying for you? Contacting may be the absolute most difficult RMA for some, and others look forward to it like Christmas morning. You are probably somewhere in between. Hopefully as you built more relationships with students and staff, you became more and more comfortable and your current efforts reflect some changed, or still changing attitudes.
Attitude Change #1 - “I hope they like me” to “they are better off for knowing me.”
Did that wake you up? Doesn’t that seem extremely arrogant? Yeah you bet it sounds arrogant but that isn’t how it’s intended. We assume kids think, “Uh-oh, I hope that Campus Life guy/girl doesn’t bug me.” They could just as easily think, “Why doesn’t that Campus Life guy/girl ever cover over to my table and say ‘Hi’ to me?” Wasn’t the woman at the well better off for having met Jesus? How about the Ethiopian official, wasn’t he better off for meeting Philip? The list could go on and on. This really has nothing to do with us; it has to do with whom we represent. We are literally taking Jesus to students who have little or no idea how desperately they need him. It also speaks to how important it is for each of us to have a growing, thriving relationship with Christ. When we do, we understand this truth in the proper context and it holds our pride in check. So we can take great confidence as we remind ourselves that each student needs Jesus and us too…because He called us to be there for Him.
Attitude Change #2 - “I hope I can get a lot of these kids to club” to “I hope I make a kid’s day”
Many of us are guilty of trying to “sell Campus Life” at a run-thru or other school events. We are so focused on trying to get kids to club that we forget we are there to build initial relationships with students and touch base with kids we already know. We are there to love them. Flyers, candy, and anything else is just a tool to help us do that. They just happen to include relevant Campus Life information.
I have always loved the way The Message translates 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, “I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” We are there to meet students’ needs. Whether they are hurting and need someone to just listen, or are a leader and need a pat on the back. We can meet those needs, at least a little bit, while contacting. I often notice next year’s student leaders while contacting. I also notice the kids that need prayer right now. Not every student will come to club, but we can still love them. If you’re doing it right, you have some great relationships with students who have no idea what a Campus Life Club looks like.
Attitude Change #2 - “I can’t wait to see the kids” to “I can’t wait to see the kids and staff”
One of the best relationships I had at my former high school was with the head security guard. Jane was a great source of information, loved reading the top ten lists, and came to me when a student or staff person needed some help. When I returned a couple of years after leading to go to a football game, she gave me a huge hug and with tears in her eyes expressed how much she missed me. Jane wasn’t a Christian when I left, but told me she just started going to a neat church in her area and loved it. She wished I was still around so she could ask me questions. I knew I had a good relationship with Jane, but had no idea it was that good. Our ministry isn’t limited to students, nor is it limited to only surface relationships with adults that allow us to “do our thing.”
Lastly, no matter where your contacting comfort level is at, be yourself. I coached a young staff person a few years ago and she had a horrible attitude heading to a football game. “I just can’t do it like you,” she told me. Of course she couldn’t, she’s not me. I told her to just sit with a few girls she knows and get to know them more and meet their friends who sit near them. As I did my thing I would look over and check on her. She was laughing, high fiving, and having a blast. When we got in my truck to head home I turned to tell her “good job,” but before I could get out a word she burst into tears. I tried not to laugh, “What? Why? You were great! That was awesome!” She looked up and through her tears exclaimed, “I know!” We don’t do contacting just to get kids to club, we do it to love them for Jesus. When we do it right. We know.
Be sure to check out the contacting videos on YFCimpact for more tips and strategies for effective contacting.