Relational Ministry 101

“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” (2 John 12)

John used the technology of his time—paper and ink—to influence others. He also knew that some things were best shared in person.

As youth workers, we know the power of “face-to-face” ministry—this is why we design our ministry programs (like small groups) to build relationships. Being with people is powerful. One thing we’ve learned from the pandemic is how much people need people.
Technology has its place! According to tradition, John wrote five books in the New Testament—beefy ones too! Consider this:

Ten sentences can be duplicated and read by a thousand people—that’s a wide net. Those same people can read those ten sentences a thousand times—this net also goes deep. The technology of paper and ink is impressive.

There’s an important principle in this Scripture: There are different ways to build relationships, and each way comes with strengths and weaknesses.

As youth workers, we could contextualize this Scripture with the following:

“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use texting or direct messages. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”

Digital communication is great! (a) It’s instant, (b) it’s what students use every day (dozens or even hundreds of times), (c) it’s passive in that a student can decide if/when they are going to respond, and finally, (d) emojis.

Here’s my first challenge: consider using your phone to make a “voice-to-voice” connection rather than texting. For many of us, this sounds crazy and maybe even scary! Phone calls make a huge impact. Think about calling rather than texting.

Let’s use the weight of this principle to push a little more for a second challenge:

Group time is great! I believe every student needs to be in a group because it’s a GREAT way to build relationships.

However, group time also has strengths and weaknesses. Students also need one-on-one conversations. These take more time and effort, but it results in better discipleship. Think about spending one-on-one time with your students.

In short, we need to use every possible tool to disciple and build relationships: group time, texts, handwritten notes, phone calls, and one-on-one meetings. You don’t need to do everything, all the time (it’s not possible), but make sure you aren’t stuck in a rut.

Change things up as you feel God is leading so that you can make deeper relational connections with your students.