I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win a free copy of the resource. This week’s resource is Explore the Bible for Middle School Students. Our Student Ministry Team team helped write this post.
Even if it were possible, most people would not go back in time and relive their middle school years. Not even for a million dollars. No amount of money would be worth the peer pressure, the awkwardness of puberty, the constant anxiety, the lunch line, the middle school dance, and the list can go on. Middle schoolers are not quite adults and yet not quite kids any more either. It’s a time when students are figuring out who they are, who they want to be, and that the world doesn’t revolve around them.
Middle school is tough. As church leaders, we cannot afford to enter the world of junior high students without carefully considering their context and how to best point them to Christ. Here are three suggestions as you serve in middle school ministry:
1. Intentionally engage middle schoolers on their level.
Middle school is such an emotionally volatile and rapidly changing time in the lives of students that we, as disciple makers, face a great temptation to hold back from engaging them. We can mistakenly reason that the last thing they want is to be eagerly sought out by adults like us, right?
On the contrary, as students are longing for validation and acceptance, the worst message we could send is that they don’t register on our radar. Rather than pumping the brakes on our discipleship efforts, faithful middle school ministry requires a deliberate approach to spiritual formation. While students are trying harder than ever before to pull away from their parents and the other adults in their lives, they’ve never needed guidance more desperately. Refuse to accept that they just won’t engage you. Keep asking questions, keep showing up, and keep pointing them to Christ.
2. Embrace their energy.
Middle schoolers are incredibly bright and capable of discussing important theological subjects with nuance and understanding. They are, however, still young. One minute they’re reflecting on how Jesus is fully God and fully man and the next minute discovering a new way to make strange noises. Don’t assume that these distractions are always malicious—hormones and growth spurts also play a part. Try to see the whole picture.
Instead of making it your sole mission to stamp out distractions, determine to harness their energy as you teach them biblical truth. Include games and active illustrations as you teach them the Bible. If this sounds difficult, find curriculum that engages middle school students and connects with them on their level.
3. Send them on mission.
Around 11 to 12 is the time in human development when children begin realizing that the world does not revolve around them. It’s not that they didn’t see this before, it’s that they begin to actively take notice of life outside their immediate surroundings. Take advantage of this and the fact that they might not be able to sit still. Send them on mission for Christ in their neighborhoods, schools, and in your church. Look for service projects in your church or in the community around your church for them to engage in. Find a local shelter or other missions agencies for you and your students to partner with.
If your goal for the middle school students is simply to help them survive, you have set the bar far too low. Determine to love them consistently and actively. Let’s meet them where they are, show them the love of Christ, and trust God to move.
Enter here, or in the form below, by 11:59pm tonight, Wednesday, August 9, 2017 for your chance to win 1 of the Explore the Bible: Students Middle School Kit Fall 2017 (Digital Bundle) and 1 of the Explore the Bible: Students Middle School Bundle Fall 2017 (Digital Bundle). Winners will be contacted via email within a few days.