RYM 071: Supporting Lower-Income Students and Families in Youth Ministry

Economic diversity exists everywhere. Which means, if we’re hoping to connect with every student in our community, we must consider the unique ways we can support and serve students of various economic backgrounds—including those from lower-income families. On this episode, join us for an honest conversation about what it looks like to minimize assumptions, partner with parents, and best serve students in lower-income situations.

How to listen: iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | SoundCloud | Spotify


  • Self-awareness of students’ life situations helps ease awkwardness and embarrassment (2:08)
  • Adriana and Jamie Howard share their experiences working with lower-income students (3:30)
  • The problem does not start and stop with money (8:36)
  • The bigger conversation about what’s going on in students’ homes and economic situations (9:11)
  • Four out of 10 American students are living in situations where their basic needs are unmet (10:01)
  • The importance of small group leaders (10:44)
  • Assumptions youth ministry workers make (11:01)
  • Ways youth ministry leaders unintentionally offend lower-income students (15:24)
  • The value youth ministry resources can give lower-income students (20:00)
  • How to orient your messaging and programming to make sure you’re serving lower-income families well (20:36)
  • Your involvement with lower-income families has to be highly strategic (26:04)
  • How to train and equip your small group leaders (31:15)
  • Partnering with parents of lower-income families (33:21)
  • Finding common ground with students through authenticity (35:26)


Book: There Are No Shortcuts by Rafe Esquith


We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic and this episode! To join the conversation, leave us a comment here on our episode page or in our Facebook Group. Not a member of our Facebook Group yet? Click the button below to join!




CJ is the Managing Editor for XP3 High School at Orange and one of the hosts and producers of Rethinking Youth Ministry, a podcast raising the bar for student leaders everywhere. CJ has been leading small groups for middle school students at North Point Community Church since 2007, which means he’s probably spent more time talking to middle schoolers than adults in his life. He also placed 5th in his 8th grade class field day fun run. CJ and his wife, Teri, live in Alpharetta, Georgia, with their son, Harley, and their robot vacuum, Barbara.


Adriana is a Lead Editor and Writer at Lead Small. She’s responsible for project management, content creation, maintaining web applications, managing contractors, and communicating with partners. Adriana is married to husband, Jamie, and aspires to publish novels and children’s books.



Jamie is the Director Of Development at Orange, where he gets to write code that helps kids have a better future. He’s also the founder of Morrowmade, a community of makers, hackers, and creatives in metro ATL doing work that matters. He likes to journal about his explorations in learning to take Jesus seriously



Charlie is an XP3 Orange Specialist at Orange after spending the past 20 years working with students in educational and ministry settings. Most recently, Charlie spent 12 years as the middle school youth pastor in a thriving Methodist church in the Metro Atlanta area. Charlie grew up in rural Illinois but has been living in metro Atlanta, GA for the past 14 years. She lives with her husband Eric, her sometimes snarky but lovable daughter, and their three pups.

If you enjoyed this episode, we would love for you to rate or review the podcast on iTunes. Your rating and review help us make this podcast better, and help get the podcast in front of other youth leaders and listeners. Thank you for listening!

Orange Conference 2018