In a recent post on the YALT (Young Adult Leadership Exchange) site, author Andy Bossardet offered a three word solution for how to reach millennials: be in relationship.
The same day I read Bossardet’s blog, I came across the following set of instructions in the Story Hour manual—written for the leaders of 4-5 year old children—and it occurred to me that when it comes to being in relationship with millennials (and all others!) these six simple rules apply:
Loving the Story Hour Child
The most basic foundation for building a relationship with your Story Hour children in your love for each one as a special child of God. Your own personality and experience with children will shine through but we want to suggest a few simple ways to communicate your love.
- Address each child by name. This says, “You are important to me. I know who you are.”
- When children are absent, let them know they are missed. Send a postcard to let them know they have a special place in your Story Hour group.
- Show affection with appropriate touch and hugs. Let each child set the pace. Those who need loving affection most may not know how to accept it comfortably.
- Praise each child generously. Look for opportunities to compliment, thank, and encourage each child. Make sure you praise is genuine and not simply an attempt to make them feel good.
- Communicate at their eye level. Make every effort to get down to the child’s level by sitting or kneeling. In conversation, be careful to respect their thoughts and feelings.
- Celebrate birthdays. Plan a special day for each child or a monthly celebration and a time to celebrate summer birthdays or send a birthday card to each child’s home.
The most basic foundation for building a relationship with teens and young adults is your love for each one as a special child of God.
- Know their names.
- When they are absent, let them know they are missed.
- Show loving affection.
- Look for opportunities to genuinely compliment, thank and encourage.
- Respect their thoughts and feelings.
- Celebrate milestones together.
Be in relationship.