youth worker, youth ministry, student ministry, adult volunteers

Hard-to-Reach Students

By Doug Franklin February 12, 2018

I was visiting a youth group’s small group ministry recently and saw a student totally dress in black and reading a book about vampires. No one talked with him, not even the adult volunteers. During his small group, he just read his book because no one asked him to engage. So after the meeting I walked over and said. “so you’re into vampires?” For the next 30 minutes he told me everything there is to know about vampires. I enjoyed our conversation, realizing he was a nice kid with no friends, but plenty of books about vampires to protect him from loneliness. It got me thinking about the numerous kids in youth groups all over the place just like him, waiting for an adult or peer to extend a hand towards him. He seemed hard to reach, but in reality, nobody had ever really tried. Most hard-to-reach students aren’t actually that hard to reach; we just need to put in a little extra effort. If you’re struggling with a hard-to-reach student, try these three things:

1. Get to know their thing
All students have a thing: it may be video games, sports or vampires. Don’t ask them to join your program – get to know theirs. The key is finding out the “why” behind their interest or addiction. Armed with this information you can begin to help.

2. Don’t judge, accept
Many students are hurting and sometimes lost, so telling them that won’t be a revelation. Discover who they are and accept them. Offer love and help. Never aid them in their problems but always offer positive help.

3. Offer peace
A cool thing about God is He offers all His kids peace. When Jesus came to this earth, God told his angels to tell mankind “Peace on earth.” Offer the same to hurting students. Their lives are crazy, painful and disorientated. Bring calmness and love – it will make a difference.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More