I hope you’re getting excited for an amazing semester of Switch! I’m Jill, and I’ve been a Switch leader in Oklahoma City for three years. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from being a Switch leader can be summed up in one word—relationships. I’d love to share some of my favorite tips with you about how to build and maintain lasting relationships with your students.
Now, I don’t want to scare you, but you need to know that Switch is a commitment. These students need someone, other than their parents, pouring into them. Students need committed, trusted, godly adults who can give them advice, encourage them, and help them find out who God has created them to be. Basically, these students are starving for relationships. And in fact, it’s possible that you might be the only one fostering their relationship with Jesus.
It’s important to be a trusted adult in these students’ lives. The reason it’s important to me is because I didn’t have anyone there for me growing up. I didn’t have someone to look up to, someone to tell me about Jesus, and someone to be there for me through life’s ups and downs. So I want to be that someone for a student. In fact, I believe that’s what we’re called to do. Jesus gave us the best example of this—just look at what the Bible says about that:
We love each other because he loved us first. 1 John 4:19 NLT
So, love your students. Help them feel like they belong, even before they believe. Don’t worry or stress over not getting to the questions. The most important part is building a relationship with them—letting them know you’re there and want to be a part of their life.
So, here’s some of my favorite tips for the first night of Switch as well as a few bonus tips for how to stay committed.
Your First Night Win:
- Get names, numbers, and contact information. Our students are online. If you want to build trust, connect with them where they are—through texting and social media. When you build trust outside of Switch, your conversations will be richer during Switch. You’ll need their first and last names, phone numbers, emails, Instagram handles, Snapchat usernames, etc.
How to Start the Year Off Strong:
- Go slow to grow deep. Start the semester off slowly by getting to know your students. Once you’ve established a relationship, you’ll be able to take your group discussions to a deeper, more meaningful level.
Staying for the Long Haul:
- Build relationships with your students and fellow leaders. Not only am I excited to see my group each week but also I look forward to seeing other Switch leaders because they have become my friends. When you have community at Switch, too, it’s easier (and more fun) to stick around for the long haul.
- Partner with Parents. Meet your students’ parents, and ask them if there’s any ways you could be praying for the student or their family.
- Be welcoming. If you have an established group, be just as excited about new students in your group as you are about your existing students.
- Go through highs and lows. Go around the group and ask each student what their high and low of the day/week has been.
Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers to be a great Switch leader. You just have to care about your students and focus on building a deep, trusting relationship with them. And when you establish that relationship, you might be amazed at what can happen!