A couple of years ago we were teaching the high school students how to engage in basic conversational skills. Then we had them practice on middle school students that same evening! The goal was to engage in relational conversation (asking questions in order to get to know the other person) that led to spiritual conversation (dialogue and questions about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, faith, church, etc). It was neat!
That summer I directed our denomination’s Kids Camp again for one last summer. In training the counselors to engage with the elementary-aged kids, I used an acronym to help them remember categories to be able to ask questions in. Watch video (starts at 30:23 and ends at 33:32)
F. A. R. F.
That is where F. A. R. F. came from:
These four categories encompass MANY questions you could ask another person. Let me break this down and be specific with how you can use FARF in getting to know the teenagers at Hayward Wesleyan Youth group!
Every single kid has a family of origin that has had a significant impact on their life, for better or worse. This is an area that you can be inquisitive about and get to know students. You can ask questions like:
- What are your parents’ names?
- What does your dad/mom/stepdad/stepmom/mom’s boyfriend/dad’s girlfriend do for a living?
- What is your relationship like with your parents? Do you get along with them? Why or why not?
- Do you have any brothers or sisters? What are their names? How old are they? Do you like them? Why or why not?
- What do you think life would look like if you were an only child? Would you like it or not?
- How do you think God has shaped you because of your siblings? Or not shaping you?
- What is your family life like?
- Where are you from? How long have you lived here or there?
- Why did you move? Did you like the move? Why was it good/bad, pleasant/difficult?
This is their school environment. Every kid has to go to school! A teenager’s main job is to go to school everyday for 7 hours. They spend a lot of time in this place. It’s wealth of information when you start asking questions about their school-world:
- Where do you go to school?
- What time do go to school?
- Do you ride the bus? What is that experience like?
- Do you like school? Why or why not?
- What are your favorite classes/subjects? Why are these subjects your favorite?
- What classes don’t you like? Why?
- Is school important to you? Why or why not?
- Who is your favorite teacher? Why do you like that person?
- Do you have teachers you don’t like? Why don’t you like them? What have you learned about dealing with difficult people in your life?
- Is school easy for you or is it a struggle? Why?
- Are there people in your school that are encouraging to you? Why?
- Are there people in your school that are discouraging to you? Why?
“What do you like to do for fun?” is the main question in this category:
- What are your hobbies?
- What is your favorite sport to play? Why?
- When you have free time, what do you do with it?
- Do you have a cell phone? How do you usually use it? What apps do you use on it? Games? Social media? How do you communicate with people on your cell phone? Text? SnapChat? Messenger? Phone calls? Marco Polo? Others?
- Where does your family go on vacation?
- Any great, memorable trips in the past?
- If you had all the money in the world, what would you spend your time doing?
- What does your family and/or friends do for fun together?
This category is strategically last because this is where you get to the character of the teeanger. “Birds of a feather flock together,” is an old saying that we are a lot like the people we hang out with on a regular basis. We have a lot in common with our friends. When you get to talk about a teenager’s friends you get a deeper look into the window of their souls.
- Who is are your best friends? Why do you like them?
- How do you keep friends?
- Is making friends easy for you or difficult? Why?
- Have you ever lost a really good friend? What happened?
- What are qualities you look for in a friend?
- What are qualities that would disqualify someone as your friend?
Now, whenever someone starts engaging in conversation with another there is an initial offering of trust. As the conversation continues and time elapses, this trust gets deeper and deeper. We adults earn relational trust with students not because we are the adults and they have to respect and trust us, but because we do the tireless work of asking questions and being genuinely interested in their answers. With great power comes great responsibility. All teenagers desperately need genuinely interested and involved adults in their lives that aren’t their parents. So this an incredible opportunity we get as adults who serve in close proximity with teenagers. Let’s not take it for granted!
As you can see, the categories above are just a tool. The question suggestions are just to get your creative juices going. There are a hundred more questions you can ask in each category, and their answers will lead you to ask even more follow-up questions!
Please don’t print this off, place it in your pocket, and take it out and go through the list with a teenager tonight, like your Alex Trabek asking the contestants on Jeopardy about their lives! Pick a couple of questions in each category (FARF) and try them out in conversation at youth group. The answers will lead you to ask more questions. It will even lead to some laughter because we all have funny stories to share. Have fun sharing your own stories with the students as well (as appropriate). The students need to know that we are humans desperately in need of Savior just like them. Don’t whitewash your life as if it’s perfect. You’ll be much more relate-able when you share embarrassing stories of yourself! I know this because my two daughters love hearing stories of their Mom and I messing up as kids (and adults) and doing super embarrassing things!!
Have fun getting to know your students better!
P.S. FARF is designed with students in mind. For adult interaction and dialogue, one could use: Family, Occupation, Recreation and Friends.