By: Ryan Weaver

As an eight year veteran of youth ministry (four with Youth for Christ), I am constantly faced with a great challenge; how does one turn the corner from contacting students to engaging them in building times? 

Contacting often seems natural for us as ministers to youth.  We attend the home football game because both middle and high school students will come out by the droves, and we get a chance to build relationships with students by showing up where they are.  At the same time, building times have a natural feel to them as we hang out with a specific group of students with the intention of getting to know them on a deeper level through a shared experience.  What doesn’t come naturally for many of us is the turn from contacting to building times.

Thirteen years ago my dad warned people to stay off the roads.  I passed the driving test and received my license.  I remember learning the art of turning.  What seems like such a basic concept is often a difficult task to execute in real life situations.  This is also true as we are “turning” the corner from contacting students to engaging them in building times.  Join me as we are reminded of how to make proper turns towards building times in campus ministry.

Prepare ahead of time to turn: I have found that my least fruitful building times with students are most often the ones that I prepared the least amount for.  When I drop in on a pick-up game of basketball with students I know in my neighborhood, I find that it is just that; a pick-up game of basketball with students I know.  When I prepare ahead of time I find that seeds are planted and fruit ripens.  As much as it is dangerous to turn from the furthest lane spontaneously, it may be more dangerous to jump into a building time without first preparing your heart and pleading with the Father on behalf of the students.  Plan ahead of time and know when you are “turning” and what direction you are going with the students.

Make sure that you are in position: When you know that building times are in the near future, make sure that you are in position to make them happen.  For me, I position myself by having three set windows of time each week that are available specifically for building times.  These are times that are in the evening or right after school when students are most likely to be available. 

Signal clearly: If you haven’t positioned yourself to do building times then you are in the wrong lane.  Turn on your turn signal, look in the mirrors, and get in position to engage in building times for the purpose of deeper relationship with lost students.  This requires accountability as well.  Find a staff member, supervisor, or mentor and let them know that you are making the “turn” towards building times.  Encourage them to ask you about them and discuss how they go. 

When it is clear, make the turn: After you have signaled and the intersection is clear, you must make the turn.  This is where we surrender to the journey and make faithful turns. Through the turn we have peace knowing that God will bless our attempts to share grace and truth with students through the relationships we’ve built.  Let’s be faithful to the calling God has placed on our lives, and let us consistently and faithfully make turns from Contacting Street onto Building Time Boulevard.

If you are bored between rearranging your fantasy football team and checking your twitter feed, feel free to check out my amateur blog at www.ryanaweaver.com

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