One of my favorite things that I love about ministering to middle school-aged students is the chance we have as youth workers to push our students into new understandings and better relationships with Christ. One of the most fun and important ways I have been doing this over the past few weeks is through a series on Spiritual Disciplines. Spiritual Discipline and middle schoolers don’t often get talked about, probably because it is not only a daunting task, but it can also be somewhat heavy and stale if we are not careful. So this is how I have tried to take this topic to a whole new level for middle school students.
1) GET HANDS-ON
No one has ever said that one of the spiritual disciplines is being bored. In fact, I love that God has created us to be fun, creative beings. One way we are teaching spiritual disciplines is through heavy interaction. I would say about 50-60% of our teaching time of 25-30 minutes is hands-on. We put into practice what we are learning.
For example, we talked about Simplicity and Solitude. I know you’re thinking how can middle schoolers have fun with simplicity and solitude? Yeah, I was too, but once you get them to put these disciplines into action they have a great time with it! We took about 15 minutes with just Jesus in complete silence. You read that right—15 minutes of middle schoolers in complete silence! I explained the “why” behind the action and then we practiced being silent and listening to Christ together in the same room. Then we got up and went on a prayer walk around our entire campus for another 10-15 minutes. To see the amount of imagination and excitement these activities unleashed was awesome!
2) BE OPEN
One of the biggest ways for us to get middle schoolers to do something is for them to see us modeling what we are teaching. Be open and transparent to them about how you are putting your spiritual disciplines into practice. We accomplished this through a series of Instagram stories and short posts. I would caption what I was working on that day and ask them to DM the Student Page with what they were doing with a caption and a picture to go with it. It was fun to see how excited they were to share their journey with others!
3) DON’T OVER COMPLICATE IT
We want middle schoolers not to only understand spiritual disciplines, but to put them into practice on a daily basis, so we can’t over complicate them. We should not only teach them what spiritual disciplines are but also impart a desire in their hearts to practice them. So, we try to make spiritual disciplines easy to pull off for a middle school student. Make sure each discipline is obtainable for your group of students. This is why we make it hands-on during our meeting time, to show them that you don’t have to take a long time doing each practice as long as you are intentional with each practice.
Here is the list of Spiritual Disciplines that we have gone over as a Student Ministry:
Simplicity and Solitude
Meditation and Study
Celebration and Guidance
Submission and Service
Confession and Worship
Prayer and Fasting