Middle school students are predictably unpredictable. You could be talking about the Passion and next think you know one of them shouts out, “FART!” To do middle school youth ministry can feel insane.
While it takes a special person to lead a middle school youth ministry, it’s an area in faith formation that cannot be ignored because it’s:
THE FARM SYSTEM FOR THE FUTURE
Yes, middle school youth ministry can feel a little messy, but it’s the where you set the tone for high school and young adult ministry. If you build enthusiasm around their faith they’ll want to be a part of it in the long run.
A LABORATORY FOR THE REST OF THE CHURCH
Middle school students are far more forgiving than the older generations. They like when you fail because it validates that life is a learning process. If you want to test out new systems or methods middle school students will cheer you on.
If you improve your middle school ministry it will create a stronger foundation for the rest of the church, but before you make it all about dodgeball and pizza parties build a strategy with:
MIDDLE SCHOOL MINDED PEOPLE
It does take a special person to lead the next generation. You want volunteers who know how to laugh at themselves and aren’t frustrated by immaturity. Look for people who are playful; yet, take their faith seriously.
When you find middle school minded people you’ll give the teens men and women they trust and will go to as they explore and learn more about their faith.
HUMOR AT THE HEART
There is a serious side to ministry, but when it comes middle school ministry you should lean more towards the fun and laughter. Middle school students are going through a period of insecurity, finding joy can be a challenge.
That means giving them opportunities to play and laugh. Interrupt serious lessons with moments to stretch and express themselves. Share stories of your mistakes, poke fun at yourself and show them a little of your humanity, they’ll respect it.
COME ALONGSIDE THE PARENTS
Building a small group culture in your middle school ministry is just as important for the parents as it is the teens. Parents who enter into adolescence have a difficult time adjusting to their sweet child becoming a hormone raging monster.
Parents need a youth ministry that’s going to tell them, “Keep up the good work.” and “You can do this.” A family that knows they can lean on your ministry is going to continue to invest in you even after their child is grown.
GET THEM VISIBLY SERVING
A lot of churches will find opportunities for middle school students to serve outside of the church, but rarely are they including them in the weekend experience. Show middle school students how they are a part of the church by giving them roles on the weekend.
Partner them up with people they can apprentice and you’ll see their confidence grow. When they become adults they’ll be ready to take on more and really impact the direction of your church.
Middle school ministry is messy, but it can be so rewarding. Use this opportunity to not only build the foundation of your entire youth ministry but to take yourself a little less seriously. For some great ideas regarding middle school activities visit my friends at Download Youth Ministry and Stuff You Can Use.
Question: What are you doing to engage middle school students further into your ministry? You can leave a comment by clicking here.