RYM 085: How To Navigate Hard Conversations With Students In Youth Ministry

Whether you’ve already had some tough conversations with some students in your ministry, or whether you haven’t walked that road yet, here’s the truth: Tough conversations are bound to happen at some point for everyone who works with students. That’s why it’s crucial for us to be prepared and equipped for those moments when they come up. In this episode, we’re talking about what to do when a student comes to you with something difficult, how to respond, and the best way to maintain their trust.

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  • Common hard conversations youth ministry workers may have with students (2:25)
  • Some conversations youth ministry leaders can anticipate with middle school and high school students and how to respond (10:27)
  • The danger of not having a strategy in approaching hard conversations with students (22:05)
  • How to prepare for difficult conversations with students (24:57)
  • How to prepare for the journey of what’s to come following difficult conversations (34:57)
  • The win with having tough conversations with these students (39:38)


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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.


Ashley Bohinc serves as the Director of Middle School Strategy at Orange, is the co-host of The Think Orange Podcast, and co-authored The Art of Group Talk. She’s worked with students in public education, athletic, and ministry settings since 2005. Ashley is most passionate about resourcing the local church, communicating onstage, developing leaders, working with students, and engaging in world missions. Additionally, she’s the USA Director of Carry 117, a ministry in Ethiopia which focuses on orphan prevention and family preservation by empowering women. In her downtime, you’ll find her watching Friends, cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers, traveling, reading, or on one of her Fairytale Friday Adventures.



Brett is an XP3 Orange Specialist with Orange after spending 11 years in full time ministry. He’s been married to his amazing wife since 2004. They have three amazing and hilarious kids who constantly keep them busy and laughing. He loves baseball, golf and makes amazing turkey melt sandwiches (if he has the time and ingredients, otherwise they’re just average).



Sara Shelton is a writer and communicator who has been serving in student and small group ministry since 2006. She serves as both a writer and editor for the XP3 Middle and High School teams. Sara is passionate about helping girls find freedom and identity in Jesus and equipping other leaders to help their students do the same. (And brunch . . . she’s also really passionate about brunch.) In her free time, you can find Sara at the movies, spending time with friends, or trying to cross the next travel adventure off her bucket list.

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Orange Conference 2018