Junior highers have a way of putting up emotional walls, especially older students. New students give you weird looks when approaching them to start a conversation. When you ask “How was your week?” to regular attenders, you get a shrug on the shoulders and a short “Ok, I guess” response. They are more interested in the smart phone in their hands than talking to you. You really have to work at building relationships before you earn their trust and they open up. And this scares the heck out of a lot of people, especially new volunteers.
When I first started leading junior high, I felt like I had my zipper down. Why were they staring at me so oddly? It was like I went in a time warp and re-entered junior high. What’s with all the weird looks? The whispers, pointing and giggling? What’s with the attitude? They seemed so strange! But over time, I broke through the walls and built strong relationships with students.
Building relationships takes time, effort and consistency. Stay persistent, keep at it and don’t give up. Train your volunteers to expect the walls to be up in the beginning. Encourage them to fight the resistance and get to know students. Once students see that your intentions are sincere, they begin to trust you. Once trust is established, they will open up. When they do, you have an opportunity to speak into their lives offering them guidance, support and encouragement.