Contributor – Bryant Johnson, Lead Consultant with Ministry Architects

10 Ways to Remember What a Youth Said

I was speaking with a youth at a church that we were doing a youth ministry assessment at. She was describing what she loved about one of their adult volunteers. “She always remembers what I say and asks about it later. It makes me feel valued.” Feeling valued results in many positive things. One of those is often increased participation.

It can be easy to forget what someone has said, especially when don’t live in the same world. It might be a name, a story, or an upcoming test that is creating pressure on the lives of young people. So here are 10 ways you can remember what a youth (or anyone else) has said to you.

  1. Write it down. Take five minutes immediately following your program time to write down a few notes from your conversation. Keep a journal in your car, so that as you walk out of the building you can jot down a few notes. Was the conversation about a soccer tournament, dance recital, or a big life question? Be sure to note who you were speaking with, what they said, and the date when you talked about it. On the following week, read through your notes before returning the next week.
  2. Repeat it. “I scored two points at the soccer tournament this weekend.” “Wow. I can’t believe you scored two points during the soccer tournament. That’s fantastic!” Simply repeating what was said to you, can help you to recall it next time. Listen. Repeat. Recall.
  3. Ask more questions. “What position do you play? Does the team pass the ball frequently? How many passes before someone takes a shot? How many points do you normally score?” Asking more questions will communicate that you are interested in what the other person is saying to you. It says that you care and that the person you are talking with is important. The more you learn about the conversation the more you will remember later on.
  4. Make a voice memo. Most smart phones have a voice memos app on them now. As soon as you find a quiet place, leave yourself a voice memo. Go to the bathroom. Walk outside. As soon as youth is over. “Talked to Rob. He scored two points at the soccer tournament.” Then save it. The following week arrive to the church five minutes early to listen to your voice memos.
  5. Send yourself an email (or write a note). This can be easier then finding a place to make a recording on your phone. Once you finish the conversation, grab some scratch paper and make a quick note. Jot down all the details that were discussed or shared with you. Fold. Stick in your pocket. Then take some time to review throughout the week or just before you arrive the following week. This is even helpful when facilitating a small group, making a prayer list, or just meeting new attendees.
  6. Tell someone else about it. “Hey Mike. Have you met Rob? He plays club soccer too and scored two points at the tournament this weekend. He was asking what it’s like to play in high school.” Taking the step to connect them with someone else who shares the same interest will build connections throughout your ministry. It will also help others establish new relationships or continue old ones.
  7. Mention it again before you say goodbye. “Thanks for telling me about your soccer tournament this past weekend. I hope your upcoming games go well. Be sure to update next week.” This says that you listened, paid attention, and are interested in what is coming up for them in the next couple of days. When you ask again next week, you are engaging in a way that communicates to teenagers that you are as interested in their day-to-day life as much as you are in the attendance.
  8. Set a reminder. I love the Reminders app on iPhone. It has two options that work well for remembering important items. The first is to remind you on a day and time. If you lead a small group on Wednesday evenings at 7pm. You can set the reminder to pop up on Sunday at 6:00pm. Read through the note just before walking into the church so that it is fresh. “Rob scored two goals at tournament.” The other option is to set it to pop up when you arrive a certain location. This works great when the event or small group is somewhere else other than the church. If it is at a home a church member, you can set it to pop when you arrive at that address. It’s a great automated tool that can be used to remember a previous conversation.
  9. Word association. Word association works best on an individual basis. It’s for those who can remember things about people, but just not their name. The goal is to associate their name with something you remember about them. For example, “Rob, freckles, red shirt, soccer.” It also works best right after the conversation.
  10. Send a note. Take some time during the week to send a note to the person you were talking to. It might be a postcard, a text message, email, or response to a picture on Instagram. It doesn’t need to be long, but just a sentence or two. “I know you’re practicing hard for this game this weekend. Keep it up. I’m praying for your endurance to get through your exams, too.”

There are many other techniques too. Don’t try and do them all, but just pick one that works. The important piece is that the young people in your church know that they are valued.

We want to hear from you. Let us know which techniques you have found that work for you.

Subscribe to our blog.


Bryant began working in youth ministry in 1997 and is currently serving at Harrison United Methodist Church in Pineville, NC. He has been worship speaker for summer camps, taught seminars for youth workers, and written curriculum for the Florida United Methodist Camping programs.

Bryant graduated from Florida Southern College with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology.

In his free time Bryant enjoys all things technology, exercise, and good movies. He and his wife, Tonya, live in Charlotte, NC.