How do you judge if your making an impact with the students you work with?

My small group is full of all kinds of students: sporty, hipster, cool dude, nerd and much more.  But what they all have in common is… guess what?  A phone.  Some students are good and put them away and a few actually don’t even have phones.  But there are a couple of students that are glued to them, like white on rice.  I can’t say that I’m perfect either but these students are addicted!  Let’s call these students “iStudent”.  iStudents have their phones out during hangout times, games, worship, small group and every and any minute they can.  I find it very discouraging when something is going on and the iStudents are glued to their phones.  How do you judge if your making an impact with these students? How do you love these students?

I had planned a small group event that I thought our group of grade 9-10 boys would like.  But something happened during this casual game night and he finally began to get comfortable.  We had a retro game night. Pizza, cips, old school nintnedo and finished the night of with a classic (Nacho Libra).  This one particular boy in my group was the definition of the istudent.  I have had him in my small group for six months and he has never spoken a single word. And believe I’ve tried.

But this night; this hang out game night he had finally been comfortable.  Not just comfortable but interested in bringing a friend.  This “iStudent” connected more on this evening than we had all year.  I encouraged him to invite his friend to our youth bible study.  He missed inviting his friend to The first youth bible study after the hang out night but the connection point was established and I used it as a conversation piece with him.  The following Tuesday he brought out his friend and I was blown away.  And guess what?  That evening during our small group talk this iStudent spoke up!  And not only that, he asked if he could read the bible verses for the group.  When he said that he didn’t have a bible on his phone or even know what bible to get I though “Bingo!”  I then walked him through getting the ESV bible app, showed him what the book, chapter, and verse were and then he was ready.  That quickly he was reading from his phone to our small group from his NEW bible.

Its crazy for me to realize that to give someone a bible now doest just mean giving them a physical bible.  Obviously you can still do that, a physical bible is still very important, but with technology driven students the avenues of delivering a bible are changing.  For me this experience was very impacting.  These iStudents feel like a steel box under lock; it’s hard to see growth or any progress.  Relationships with students will be the easiest way to help foster growth and these relationships need to be outside of large, regularly planned events where you can get to know them more.  Once a connection is made the growth will be easier to gage and you will find encouragement in the small things.  For me it was this iStudent taking his favorite thing and slapping a bible app on it.

How do you connect with students in a digital world? 

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