I underestimated how concrete middle school students think when I started. Now I have a better handle on it. I can’t just say “Well, glad we learned that. Now off to big church!” and hope the lesson sticks. I give my students something to do, touch, say or whatever that helps solidify the “So What?” of the lesson. For example, this last Sunday students walked around the room and wrote out on a poster board how they would step out in faith and show love to someone. Then they signed their name to it. Super simple, but allowed the lesson to end with some concrete application that they came up with all on their own (Okay, so I gave some examples along the way too).
(AKA, talk and pray time) At 10:30 am the students head home or to big church and I hang around in the room until it clears out. I talk with the new students, pray with any who need, and generally am present until the students are gone.
Some obvious things I see writing this out I ask a lot of questions when I teach
We have a large enough group so that answers can vary but small enough that we don’t have to run a mic around the room to hear answers. If we were larger I’d have students discuss in their rows or at tables. We have a TON of moving parts. Stand. Sit. Play. Watch. Sing. Stand. Sit. It can seem like a lot is going on with our service but I’ve been in the same room with the same kids doing less stuff and have had to watch the middle school riots begin. Having a lot to do helps wiggly kids not be so wiggly and get out their energy in a positive way. It’s more planning on my end, but I love the results! I’ve written a few activity and question heavy curriculum for DYM if this sounds like something that would benefit your group. Check out Gray, Awkward, Fresh and Killing the Clique. I feel like these lean heavy on movement but also help get the truths your teaching across as well!
A couple things I wish we did better Student greeters
I really want a dedicated group of students being the “main door holder/greeters” but haven’t nail that down yet. I need to get on it! Follow-up for new kids: We do great when a student gets to our ministry, but I want to do a better job of connecting with them AND their parents right after the service too. Maybe another student led team can do this?
Students running everything is great. Students never seeing other parents involved in the Sunday MS Service, not so awesome. I’m trying to recruit parents to be in the room with us helping me and loving on kids. I have one right now. I want a few more for reinforcements! Student sharing/teaching: I don’t ask students to get on stage often and teach. They come and play games or lead worship, but hardly ever talk. Maybe it’s because I ask questions a lot that I don’t do this. I want to see more students sharing from the stage, though.
So that’s our service. Controlled chaos? Most definitely. Completely rewarding? You bet!
What does your middle school time look like?
Ronald Long is a youth pastor and Downoad Youth MInistry author – check out his resources right here!