Later this month, I’ll be conducting a “Real Life Simulation” during youth group. I’ve asked the small groups of the church to come and act as high school students in a make-believe cafeteria. Why? To have the students practice sharing the gospel in a venue they face each day at school. Sounds like a great idea…and hoping God can use it despite my crazy ideas. As I gave the small groups a list of the possible “high school characters” they could act like…it got me thinking. Wow, there are so many different student cliques, different personalities, and different student groups. I had no idea there was such a diverse group of students at an average cafeteria.
Check out this list of student cliques: Jocks, Academic Over-Achievers, Rebel Loner, Popular Crowd, Rich/Wealthy, Cheerleader, Teacher, Gothic, Well-dressed (Preppy), Pep Band Member, Philosopher, Dazed & Confused, Skater, Tattoos & Piercings, Freshman/Young Crowd, Tomboys, Thespians, Artsy, Class Clown, Political, LARP-ers, Emo, Exchange Students, Hippies, Gamers, Atheists, Scene Kid
Sure, I’m sure some of those show how old I am. But for the most part, that is what a high school cafeteria could look like, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some groups. And as I looked at that list, I couldn’t help but think about two questions: How do I stop these cliques from forming in our student ministry? How do I reach each of these student cliques with the Gospel?
Here are some solutions that came to mind:
How to stop student cliques:
- Change it up. Change the seating periodically. You see it in the church service every Sunday. People sit in the same spot virtually every service. Don’t let these habits form in your student ministry…it can cause cliques very quickly.
- Spread out. Challenge your student leaders to branch out. When they catch this vision, cliques start to deteriorate.
- You know better. Don’t have student pick their groups for activities, games, group projects. Split up your student leaders, and allow relationship to build outside the comfortable friendship zone.
How to reach different student personalities with the gospel:
- Educate yourself. Study up on what the latest games are coming out to start a discussion with a gamer (October was a pretty big month). Find out the latest tracks that might interest the different genres of music lovers (emo, gothic, skater, etc).
- Take a step. You may just have to take a step out of your comfort zone. Maybe you weren’t popular in high school, maybe the jocks intimidate you, maybe you have no connection with the intellectuals…it’s time to take a step towards these people, because you are a carrier of Jesus’ love, and they need to be infected by it.
- Pray & Go. Pray for opportunities, pray for wisdom, and pray that the gospel will be shared. Then after prayer, find ways to get into the schools and make those conversations happen. That ampersand in the title is very important. Don’t just pray, and don’t forget to pray before you go. It is a both and situation!
Sources: Check this out, scroll down & see an actual student charts of the cafeteria at various schools; Dynamics of a high school cafeteria