So I started doing this little thing…which many churches do. I don’t claim to be the inventor. Lots of people do it lots of ways. But I’m going to blog some thoughts and ideas specifically on Fifth Quarter for Middle School Students. This post is a few basic understandings of the mindset I give our team each time we do it.
#1 It is not an event…but it is an event
Great, confuse everyone. But heres the deal. Fifth Quarter (or 5Q as we have simplified it) has become more of a tangible thing rather than an event as it is usually understood to be. For a lot – a fifth quarter is done after a football game, during football season, for students who wouldn’t usually come to church. And true – our highest turnouts are after the football games, with students who wouldn’t usually show up. It is definitely a crowd moment.
But beyond the event – Fifth Quarter has established a common meeting place for sharing the truth of the Gospel. Students know they can come and it is a safe place – whether they go to church all the time or never go to church. We constantly love on students, let them know everyone and anyone is welcome. This leads to the chance of fights, cussing, kids hating on other kids, church parents not liking heathens around their child, and lots of other things. Community kids will constantly let you know “I don’t go to your church, I just come to fifth quarter.” And I constantly respond to all of these situations with: you are loved beyond what you could ever imagine, and created for something far greater than anything you know right now.
#2 It can’t be just an event
Ok – how is this different? Let me tell you how you get a fifth quarter to work. Don’t focus on those 3-4 hours on Friday. Huh? Of course – do it well. I have done some really crappy 5Qs in the last few years. But what makes it a success is that I don’t focus on getting kids there as my sole energy. Do I want kids to show up – yes. But I partner my energy in knowing three things.
Know the students.
Who is showing up? Collect data – and not “adult friendly data.” Who did they come with? Who are they following on Instagram? A lot of middle schoolers know follow me – and it is a great in to their world. Be cautious – but this is a great way to know the students. Move beyond the event – show up at sporting events and school events – show support not just for “church kids” but make those who show up at a fifth quarter feel known – and by doing this you mirror the truth that they are known by God.
Know the family.
I’ll admit – I really suck at this one. But sometimes you get the opportunity to know their family. Specifically with middle schoolers, their parents. Greet them at the door as they come to pick up their child. If you go to a sporting event, introduce yourself. Chances are – after doing a fifth quarter for awhile – parents will know who you are. Which can be scary. “Oh you’re that guy.” Um…yes. That’s me. I actually created personalized business cards with more than just my name, number, and email but my story. And they say “Who Is Brummy” for the sole reason that students know me as Brummy. And I needed as many ways to share hope and communicate with parents about who I am – and who God is.
Know the community.
This is key. Fifth Quarter won’t work in some communities. I have been blessed that I have been able to develop some sort of relationship with our local schools. We are also a heavy sports/activities community. I make it key to know when middle school teams are playing, what students are on what teams, and when their games are. Saturdays last fall were spent visiting game after game of our middle school boys football teams. A lot of times I would run into their “girls” watching them play. I brought ice cream sandwiches to one team’s final game. I took students home and brought students with me to watch other students play. I moved beyond the event and knew the community – what is important to them. The big events such as the middle school talent show I went to with my wife – and made contact with our students, both church and community, teachers, and others I knew.
Fifth Quarter can’t be an event you do. It is a tool used in multiple ways. I am going to keep breaking it down – the battle of outreach vs discipleship and how both arguments fail, concrete ideas for a middle school fifth quarter, finding the right leader for this type of vessel, and more. I’m excited to share and brainstorm with you what God has placed on my heart and taught me as I navigate this crazy world of middle schoolers and making concrete disciples.