Switch is an amazing place for students to come hear about God, but it can sometimes be difficult to compete for their attention with everything else on their plates. By the time our students arrive on a Wednesday evening, their brains are buzzing with school, homework, family life, sports, social pressures, and all sorts of other stuff. So, how do we as leaders sift through the noise and make the most of our brief time with them? Trust us—it’s not as difficult as you think.
Of course we’re encouraged to go to their sporting events, recitals, and concerts outside of Switch if we’re able. That’s awesome! But there’s also great ways to make the most of the time we’ve already committed to on Wednesday nights.
I’ve been with my students for three years, and here are some ideas my co-leader and I have discovered:
- Use their names. I know, right? It sounds so basic! It matters though. It makes them feel seen. Before you can really build relationships, students want to feel known. This can be tough with some of the students who randomly pop in and out throughout the semester. Challenge yourself to learn their names as soon as you’re able, and use them so they know you know!
- Host a pizza party during hang out time. Once a semester or so, pick up a bunch of pizzas on your way to Switch and hang out with your students before the worship experience begins. The students feel special for getting a party, and it gives you a little more face time with them before small group time at the end.
- Pray for your students in front of them. Some of these kids don’t have anyone else praying for them. It’s one thing to say, “I’m praying for you,” but it’s another thing to show them. It’s a worthy endeavor to dedicate a night to taking prayer requests and then bringing them before God together. Their eyes are on you as an example, a spiritual leader, and a trusted adult. Show them you love them by the way you talk about them to their Heavenly Father.
- Ask good questions. (Then, really listen.) As leaders, I think we all crave those deep conversations with our students that leave us feeling encouraged that we’re doing something meaningful. We’ve found that if we ask a pointed question and go around in a circle to hear everyone’s answers, we get a lot more thoughtful responses. It just takes one student being vulnerable, and then the others follow suit. (Examples: “Name a time when you’ve had to depend on God,” or “What is something God gifted you with?”)
- Find new ways to engage them. You know your students best. Would they appreciate dressing up as a group on theme nights? Would they respond to using a playground ball as a way to give someone the floor in group time? Maybe they’d appreciate a night dedicated to playing Heads Up or Catch Phrase. Having fun with them is a great way to bond. So, choose at least one or two nights a semester just to have fun together. You’ll be amazed at what it can do for your group dynamic!
- Get a late dessert after Switch. This is a great idea for the last Switch before a big break. It’s a later night, but it’s a fun, social way to send the students off on their Christmas (or summer) breaks. Bonus: It’s also a great way to invite parents into the group because parents often equal rides to and from Switch.
I hope the above suggestions kick off your own brainstorm of fun ways to make the most of a Wednesday evening at Switch because creating meaningful moments for your group doesn’t have to be stressful but can absolutely be game-changing. You’ve got this!