I was working with a group of college students at an event. We taught the WHEAT acronym. During a break, in the hall near the snack table, a young man pointed toward an older man down the hall, “See that guy over there? I just Wheated him! Standing by the table, getting my donut, I got through all five of those topics.” Suddenly WHEAT becomes a verb! “Let’s go WHEAT some people.”
Now the “Aha” story.
I was working with a group in the evenings during a ski and snowboarding event in Colorado. We taught the WHEAT tool and told the group, “Tomorrow will be ‘chair lift chat day.'” It was a busy resort, so they ran a singles line to get on the lifts. They needed to fill every seat. The line went quicker, but you didn’t know with whom you would sit. “You have to ride the singles line at least three times tomorrow. Whoever you sit beside, you get to WHEAT that person. We’ll share stories tomorrow evening.”
My Three Chair Lift Chats
First, I met a school teacher. I went to college to be an educator, so it was an easy conversation. She was from Canada and said, “Eh” more than I was used to. “How are things, eh?” I’d reply, “Great, eh!” We had a fun conversation.
Second person, I’ve always called “Mr. Party Dude.” Mid twenties, he wanted to share all about a strip bar he had been to the night before. A somewhat awkward topic made even more awkward after I decided to share who I am and what I do for a living!
Third trip up, I sat beside a business man who fairly early on shared that he was at the resort with his wife, but that it was kind of a last effort to see if their marriage could still work. Suddenly we were in a deep conversation. I mostly listened as he shared some of his disappointments in life. We stood and continued at the top. Eventually, I thanked him for sharing and gave a verbal blessing, turned and started down the mountain.
Aha Moment! As I skied, I’m sure everyone could see the light bulb that turned on above my head. It hit me, that WHEAT’ is not just a silly acronym; it is the Good Samaritan Story! It is stepping into someone’s life, saying “hi,” and being willing to enter into a caring, welcoming conversation. This WHEAT acronym is about God!
Challenge! Teach WHEAT, but not until you have your own stories.
In Peer Ministry Leadership, we tell leaders, you have to intentionally use the skills before you teach them. Youth always know when you are just teaching from a manual. That is why we strongly suggest going through a facilitated training first. Experience it, use it, then you can teach what you live.
Teach WHEAT, then challenge everyone to intentionally use it at least three times. Meet with your group to share stories the next day. Your discovery! If your group is like most, many of your youth will have stories of fun new connections, some will be more about welcoming and including someone who needed a friend at the moment, others will have found themselves entering into a conversation of deeper sharing.
Your job is to connect all these conversations as faith stories, experiences of welcoming, caring and affirming others as an everyday practice, loving because Christ first loved us. (I John 4:19)
If you and your group are ready to go deeper, contact us about setting up a PML training. If you want to do it, we’ll find a way to make it happen!