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Intentional One-On-One Time With Students


I love my small group guys. They are going to be seniors this year, so this is my last year with them before I get a new batch of squirrelly freshmen. With the craziness of the school year, sports, family stuff, and small group it could be really hard to make sure I get some good, intentional time with each one of the guys in my small group. I know the point of small groups is to get students in a smaller setting, but there is something about intentional one-on-one time with a student that is such a huge benefit for both them as a student and us as leaders.

But how do we do this when we have weekend services and then we have a normal small group night as well? Do we take another night out of the week? Maybe you can but that is not always the case for all in youth ministry because for many, it’s not a full-time gig. So how do we make sure we get some quality one-on-one time with our students that we all know is so valuable when it comes to speaking into their lives and finding out how they are really doing? There are some things I do during the year to make sure I at least get a few good one-on-one times with my guys throughout the year.

  • Meet before an event or group- I usually have a gap between when I get out of the offices and before group. Instead of going home for a little bit I would always go to the Starbucks right down the street from the house we meet at. I started to invite one student to Starbucks an hour earlier than the group and we would hang out there and chat about God and life for that hour before going to group. This quickly became one of my favorite hours of the week. So maybe you can be intentional with the hour before a meeting time or event and invite a student to come hang out before.
  • Invite them to work- Students get out of school between 2-3pm normally. Since my guys are seniors this year, they get out at lunch. Invite students to your office. You might have to be at work and in the office but some of my favorite times and great conversations are when I am working on something in my office and a student is sitting on the couch while I work. They do not care you are working, they are just stoked you invited them to come hang.
  • Meet them for lunch- If they can get out at lunch at school, meet them at a nearby fast food place for a quick one-on-one. There is a Del Taco walking distance from one of the schools and I try to meet with one of my guys at least once every two weeks right there for a quick-lunch. It’s awesome. Plus, I meet a ton of his friends because the place is overran with students at lunch.
  • Bring students on errands- There are times during the week where I am out and about getting things for the different events we do. Instead of driving alone, I’ll invite one of my guys to come. Yes, we are running errands but we talk about stuff because it’s just us two. It’s a great time to get things you need to get done and also hang one-on-one. I usually drive through Chick-fil-a and get a shake with them 1) because their shakes are BOMB! and 2) just to say thanks for coming with me.
  • Slurpee Sundays - We have an hour before our two services on Sunday morning. So I started “Slurpee Sunday” where I take two students to AMPM across the street from church to get slurpees. It’s great quality time with students and it’s fun. We usually take an Instagram picture and post it with the hashtag #slurpeesunday. Students now know what it is and are wanting to go, it’s turned into a great way to meet new students and get to know them a little better. Nothing says ‘Murica like a cup full of sugar at 10:30 in the morning. What could be your “Slurpee Sunday”?

I am sure there are many more things I can do to make sure I get one-on-one times with my small group guys. These are just things I do right now and I feel are working pretty well. I love the big groups and services and events, but there is something about being with a student in your group alone that allows the conversation to turn in a way that allows us to speak into their lives. There is nothing better.

What are some ways you make intentional one-on-one times with your students? I would love to hear some other suggestions!

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8 Responses to Intentional One-On-One Time With Students

  1. kolby September 6, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    Thanks for this post Justin. Love the idea of slurpee sunday. I do pretty much all the same things as you. I don’t take students out for lunch too often because their lunch hour is so short. I usually meet students for starbucks!

  2. Justin Knowles September 6, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    Thanks for reading my friend! Gotta love Starbucks. Youth worker’s best friend is a Starbucks gift card!

    • Ashley September 7, 2013 at 8:08 am #

      This was really helpful! I’m getting ready to start a small group of high school and college aged girls. I like and need to exercise during the week, so it made me think to include them on a walk or possibly take one or two hiking! Girls typically have self image struggles too, so this might be a good conversation starter. Another thought I had was to get them to volunteer with me (if they aren’t serving already) on Sunday morning! :)

      • Justin Knowles September 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

        Ashley, thank you for reading! So glad this was of some help! You would be surprised how many of your students would actually want to come with you. You will have so many great conversations!

  3. Fred Franke September 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm #


    I love your thoughts…but more, I love you carrying them into action.

    Being Intentional…Being a Blessing…


    • Gail September 8, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

      I love the ideas, but we have a Safe Sanctuaries policy at our church which would make it difficult to take students somewhere like shopping with me. Last year I started “Mayberry Monday.” I invite youth to come and have ice cream with me and spend an hour chatting. Sometimes the groups are big, sometimes small. We do have some good conversations there!

      • Justin Knowles September 8, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

        I love that idea Gail. What a great, intentional idea. Some of the best conversations about God and life have come from moments like those.

    • Justin Knowles September 8, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

      Thank you Fred! I love it. That is for sure. It for sure makes running errands more fun!

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