I became a Middle School pastor two years ago and it has completely changed how I look at our large group time! For a little context, I’m in a medium sized church who has its students meeting in large groups on Sunday mornings. Our middle school ministry has 6th through 8th grade students in it. The high school meets in one room and we dominate another. I’ve been in student ministry in some capacity now for nine years.

Some of this stuff is based on scientific fact and psychology and research.

Most of it is based off of assumptions and observations I had about middle school students when I was a youth pastor for 7th to 12th grade students. I knew they had shorter attention spans, higher energy, and were easily distracted. I’ve tried my best to plan to have those either work to help the lesson along or to have a plan for what to do when the expected occurs!

Let me walk you through our Sunday morning time and hope that it helps you take a closer look at what your group is doing. I’ll also share a few things I wish we did better.

Set-up Stuff Our time starts at 9:15 am, and I’m typically in the room no later than 8 am making sure last minute things are set and the stuff I put out on Friday has in fact survived the weekend. Sometimes I’ve got one of my kids with me, sometimes I don’t. They’re toddlers and have a few super fans with our students. The middle school worship band is typically practicing during this time and student volunteers show up as well. Middle school kids runs our lights, sound, and projection software. It’s awesome!

Hang Time
The first thing that happens on the schedule is hang time and I can’t stress how important this is! During this time the video game we have are going and students are in and out of the room with coffee and snacks. I’m doing my best to meet new kids and reconnect with students I haven’t seen in awhile. New kids get a coupon for a free drink to our coffee shop and an info card to fill out for me. I’ll typically pass out a few cards to other students standing around to show the new kid the coffee area downstairs. This is planned talk like crazy time. Music is playing, the band is off the stage, and everything is just waiting. Announcements typically run on the screens in the room on a loop.

Announcements/Sign-ups/Event Videos
At 9:30 am we call the students over.to grab a chair and I start off with a few announcements. If we did some awesome event the week before we show off pictures or videos from it. If sign-ups are starting, this is when we let kids know about it. Now this might seem like it’s no big deal but the point of it is to let students get settled into their chairs and transition from hanging to gathering.

This is the spot where we do some activity, game, video or illustration to get students thinking about the lesson ahead of us. I LOVE doing games where everyone plays and gets out of their chairs. This is a great time for that to happen! This Sunday we’re going to have an Easter egg hunt in our room. I’m still working on the logistics of that one… After the game is done and we get students settled back into their seats, it’s time for…


Ronald Long is a youth pastor and Downoad Youth MInistry author – check out his resources right here!