A Different Way to Build Relationships with Your Students

Young Couple WalkingBuilding relationships with students is one of the most important things we do as student pastors and youth workers. Even though it’s an important part of our ministry it’s hard to do. Why? Because we are busy. Student ministry demands much more than just relationships with students. There are talks to prepare, events to plan, leaders to train, parents to partner with, and meetings to attend. Unfortunately we cannot sacrifice these things and hangout with students all day. So on top of our already busy schedules we try and build relationships with students. There has to be a better way and I believe there is.

We need to start building relationships with students by having them join us on our day to day activities. Instead of planning something to go do with a students (which is still a good, effective thing to do) we can invite them to join us for something we already have planned. It keeps us from adding another thing on our calendar and gives them a glimpse into our daily life.

For an example, I planned to go hiking this weekend. It was really nice out and I wanted to enjoy the outdoors by going on a hike at one of our local parks. So I texted a student and called another to invite them to join me. It ended up being one of the most successful relational connections I have ever had with students. It allowed me to do something I had already had planned and also gave me a chance to hangout with students. It was a casual day doing something I enjoy and hanging out with some of my students. Also, this helped those guys get a glimpse into my daily life. They got to hangout with me while doing something I enjoy. Also, it made them feel important that I would contact them and ask them to join me in doing something I had planned.

Student ministry is busy, especially if you are in a full-time position. Making relational connections with students is hard and takes time. So start having students join you while your doing things you already had planned. Have them ride along with you as you run errands. Ask them to join you while you do something you enjoy. Let them get a glimpse into your daily life.

Build relationships with your students while you live your day to day life. Let them be a part of that. It will help you build a stronger relationship with them and may impact them in ways you never know.

Published by Austin McCann

Austin is the student ministries director at Redemption Chapel in Stow, OH. He has a BA from Piedmont International University and a Master of Arts in Religion with a Christian leadership focus from Liberty University School of Divinity. Austin enjoys reading, writing, playing basketball and golf, and spending time with his family.

Join the Conversation


  1. I highly recommend bringing students along with you to whatever you had planned to do. The other day I took a student with me to watch some other students baseball game. I got to hang out with the one student in the stands and encourage the students playing baseball after their game was over. It was definitely a win win!

    1. Adam,

      Thanks for stopping by the blog! It’s always a good win win when you bring a student along with you to go check out another student sporting event or something.


  2. When I was a young, single, broke youth minister, I used to always take students with me when I would go to the laundromat.

    I have a washing machine now, but the idea is the same!

    1. Aaron,

      That’s awesome! Just proves the point that students enjoy hanging out with us and it doesn’t take much for us to find a cool place to connect.


  3. I do love this idea…I heard the advice from a youth pastor when I was still a volunteer, and you’re right: it can result in some amazing relational opportunities that just don’t always happen during our “programmed” youth ministry times.

    A bit of push back: this idea changes when you have a family. I think all youth pastors know how difficult it is to set boundaries and have time where we are “off.” When a spouse and awesome kids are thrown into the mix, it can be tougher to be a dad (or mom), spouse, and also have margin to spend time with God or just doing something on my own that rejuvenates me. So while I still try to invite students along to what I’m doing from time to time, I try to limit it to things I’m doing when I’m “on” such as asking a student to come with me when running errands for a retreat. Because these days when I go on a hike, I’m probably taking one of my daughters with me, and I’m not going to ask them to share their daddy with someone else.

    1. Thanks for the thoughts. Even though I’m newly married and have no kids yet, I can already feel the pressure of making sure I have time “off” to be with my wife. As student pastors we have to know when the time is right to bring students along and when the time is not right.


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