You’re the youth group leader. It’s Day One. The kids have arrived and you’re standing in front of them. You’re essentially on stage.
Anxious? Nervous? Frightened?
Wouldn’t blame you if you are.
How can you be sure to make a good first impression with your youth group?
#1. Be Prepared
Did you treat your youth group like an exam that you crammed for? Did you toss things together haphazardly? If so, you’ll be like meat to lions. The kids will sense your confusion and pounce.
Make sure to be very prepared. You’re the group leader. You’ve been entrusted with setting the tone and establishing a place where things get done. Don’t jeopardize that by not doing your homework and showing up unprepared. Even if the “things to get done” are as simple as “have fun,” it needs to be planned.
Map out your plans in advance. For the large things, like a theme for your year or mission for the group, plan it for the entire year. Usually in regards to study sessions, discussions, and activities, you can plan by the quarter.
But definitely plan, because that will go a long way in making a good first impression.
#2. Use Humor
People like to laugh. You knew that, right?
Use humor early in your first meeting with your youth group. You don’t have to be a clown or a standup comedian, but some jokes or light-hearted commentary will help break the ice.
#3. Dress for the Role
You’re a youth group leader. You’re not a CEO. Don’t overdress. Be casual without trying to look too “cool” or “hip.” You’re not one of the youth, so don’t try to dress like them. But you can be as casual as you’d be if you were going to a good friend’s house for a non-fussy party. That means blue jeans, maybe even shorts and a tee-shirt are fine. But be clean and well-groomed. No one likes a slob.
#4. Be Honest
If this is new to you and you’re a little petrified, tell the kids that. Let them know your fears and your hopes for the group. Set the boundaries, rules, and guidelines. They’ll appreciate the honesty and will understand clearly what’s expected of them.
#5. Share Your Story
People love stories. It’s so true. So share yours.
Tell the youth how you came to be where you are in your spiritual journey, your career with youth, or how you met your partner (especially if you are team-leading a group with your husband or wife). Inject humor (see #2) and also be personal about your story. What are you passionate about? What goals do you have? What challenges have you overcome to get to where you are.
Practice “your story” on your peers before your first meeting with your youth. Take time to craft a personal story that reveals who you are.
#6. Say Thanks
Let the youth know how much you appreciate them being there. Explain to them that their time is extremely valuable and that you appreciate them making a commitment to be a part of the group. You can never go wrong saying, thank you.
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