I may be just a tad partial to middle school ministry. After spending five years working with 6-8 graders you either really like them or really dislike them. Thankfully, I really like them. It also opens your eyes to how critical this age range is. It may have been true that 20 years ago middle schoolers didn’t have [as many] issues – but that is not the case today. In our technology heavy, adult-driven world, middle school is critical.
#1 Middle Schoolers don’t deal with real problems
While there is some truth – Grandma’s puppy that died is a serious issue to them, but not hugely life defining or altering in the big scheme of things. However, this year alone I have dealt with students in middle school who were arrested for assault, addicted to pornography, getting drunk on the weekends, and using any means necessary to obtain tobacco products. And no – these were not students just outside the church. Many were ones who had spent their whole life being brought to an institution of worship.
#2 Middle Schoolers can’t do real things
First – it really annoys me when people say this. Second – something cool has happened over the last four years. Four years ago our students helped out at this little place called The Martin Center. It has since grown to a church wide location of serving – with time and money being invested. But without the passion behind those middle school students, the energy they brought and the conversations started because of their spark – many adults wouldn’t have been curious to discover what has now blossomed into multiple believers across the county investing in this building and these people in Canton, Ohio.
#3 Middle Schoolers aren’t real followers of Christ
Sure, middle schoolers may spend a lot more time shooting nerf guns, tackling their youth leader into a giant mud pit, or counting how many mountain dew they can consume in one night. But that is how we do community – how we establish ourselves where we are at in God’s family. Middle schoolers are more than capable in Christ to make the decision to follow – they are able to identify the fact they are sinners in need of the redeeming blood of Christ – and that they can walk in new life found only in Him. They can change their schools, their sports teams, their local Starbucks – all while being in the 7th grade. And that is pretty cool.