God blessed me with another incredible day of ministry in the cafe! Let me tell you about it.
Here’s why I love Jr. High Students
- They have relatively thin brain filters
- They think everything is funny
- Reasonably lame = somewhat cool
- Usually, It requires minimal prodding to open up their life story and emotions up like a book
A group of 6-8 students came into the cafe several times over the course of my shift. I use humor, laughter, and general silliness to reveal students daily struggles and then present biblical truths / encouragement about those struggles. The cafe is a stage, our customers the audience, our production is the message of Christ and Him crucified.
The stage of a good conversation is set by picking out a groups quiet instigator, vocal court jester, and each of their respective cheerleaders. Every group of students have main characters and supporting roles. Once the characters have been established, then it is like improv. The “shows” or conversation’s topic is picked by the audience based on what is the most important topic of the day. Typical topics can include relationships, parents, school, sometimes drugs or alcohol, and other important subjects that a student would cover over by laughing about it. All humor is based on a shred or blaring bit of truth. NOTE: These topics are not comical. They are often tragic. In a group setting, however, humor allows me to gracefully talk about sensitive topics while discharging some of the topics shame or awkwardness. NOTE: It is very very very important to constantly ask the Holy Spirit to reveal (1) the core issue (2) when enough is enough (3) when to quickly backdown, change topics, finish making a drink or buy time, and when to seek to separate a student from the group and continue the conversation later. I accomplish this by quickly catching that student and giving them a free drink coupon or telling them to comeback later if they want a free cookie. I seek to deliver the climax of the conversation by looking straight into the eyes of the student who need to receive it and quickly, concisely stating the biblical truth or the gospel in a phrase.
This shift was unique, because I started the conversation about boys with a group of 14 year old girls and a few guys. 5-10 minutes into the conversation, a few college aged girl walked into the cafe. Instead of appearing to be on a mission to get a bubble tea, they quietly enjoyed the show and then started agreeing with the conversation until finally one of the older girls stated “I’m never getting married.” The conversation became a little more sensitive as college aged girl sometimes bring content into the conversation which should not be there. When this happens, I shut the conversation down by quickly blending the drink and allowing very little pause between each beverage. The physical volume of the blender can be a tool of distraction or redirection. This wasn’t the case. The older girl tastefully shared that her boyfriend had cheated on her throughout their relationship. The younger girl shared a very similar story.
I looked at the older girl and said “You desire a guy that respects you. You don’t need to live with him first to know if he’s a pig”
I looked at the younger girl and said “Girl, focus on growing into a girl respectful guys will be attracted to. There’s a couple of great churches here in Topeka that can help you with that.”
Then I told the entire group “Boys are pigs”
The few guys in the group nervously giggled. They gave me an invite to challenge them to respect girls, otherwise they will be the subject of the next conversation.