Three Levels of Contact Work with Middle School Kids
There is no substitute for contact work in the relational ministry of WyldLife. Contact work allows leaders to build relationships and earn the right to talk with kids about Jesus. What do the three levels of contact work look like with middle school kids?
LEVEL ONE: SEE & BE SEEN. Start by showing you are interested in their lives.
- Make a list of places in your community where middle school kids hang out.
- Attend scheduled events rather than just hanging around the school.
- Spend time in the parent section, introducing yourself and getting to know parents too. Parents make decisions about schedules and friends, so parents need to trust you with their kids.
- Volunteer at the school by working in the lunchroom, coaching a team or chaperoning dances. Ask key parents to connect you with administrators so you can get involved.
- Ask parents for schedules of non-school, recreational leagues and go cheer for kids.
- Set up “contact venues” where all kids are welcome. Invite kids to hang out somewhere walking distance from school – a park, gym or fast food restaurant.
- Understand what middle school kids think about leaders who enter their world. Kids are asking themselves “Do you like me?” unlike high school kids who are asking, “Do I like you?”
LEVEL TWO: TALK WITH KIDS. Talk to kids about the things that interest them. Be a good listener.
- Make a list of conversation starters.
- Know that you will make friends easily. Middle school kids are desperate to be accepted and loved so they want to be with people who care about them.
- Create contact work opportunities if you don’t have access to the school or school events. Add 30 minutes to the beginning or end of club when leaders can play and get to know kids.
- Encourage parent leaders to be intentional as they spend time at their own children’s activities. They can use this time to meet and talk to other kids, too.
- Don’t expect instant deep conversations, and don’t be disappointed in short answers. Rejoice in your conversations with kids.
LEVEL THREE: DO THINGS WITH KIDS. Build a deeper level of friendship.
- Plan ahead. It’s almost impossible to be spontaneous with middle school kids. Instead, call their parents to ask permission and make a plan. (Ask for parents’ phone numbers on club cards, not just kids’ phone numbers.)
- Go in groups. Middle school kids can be uncomfortable in one-on-one settings with adults. Invite a small group of kids to eat pizza, go bowling or play basketball.
- Be creative. They can’t drive, so offer to take kids to practice or the mall. They’ll love pulling up with someone other than a parent, and you get great time to talk along the way.
- Look for practical opportunities to serve kids. Help them with homework or help them prepare for an audition or a team tryout. Parent leaders can host breakfast before taking kids to school or invite a study group over to their house for the afternoon.
- Invite kids to something you are already doing – grocery shopping, taking a walk, working out.
- Remember that high school students under the age of 18 cannot drive WyldLife kids.
The three levels of contact work should be done with three groups of middle school kids: non-club kids, club kids and Campaigners kids.
Set weekly, monthly or semester-long contact work goals with your team.
- How many kids do you want to meet?
- How often do you plan to do contact work?
- How/where will you see and be seen?
- How/where will you talk to kids?
- How/where will you do something with kids?
- How will you hold yourselves accountable to do contact work?