And the Word [Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory… – John 1:14
John begins with a beautiful passage of this really, really good news about Jesus – that God would send His son who would literally dwell – live – tabernacle – among us! And I think somewhere, at times, we have lost sight of this. We have been so focused on this build it and they will come mentality we forgot that Jesus came and dwelled among us – human beings – created in God’s image. When Jesus was on earth he ate with people, in their homes, went to their towns, he was where they were. Now – most of his time was focused in one geographical area – at least from what we read about in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. I want today to challenge our thinking to not overlook middle school students – concrete thinkers – as not being worth our time. That the world they live in is vastly important but extremely challenging to live among. I want to fight against a couple arguments.
#1. They only care about fun and silly things
And a large crowd was following him, because they saw signs that he was doing on the sick. – John 6:2
Throughout Jesus ministry – we see people following him for multiple reasons. Some are curious – they have seen or heard things that are happening. Some want free food. Some truly have questions about Jesus’ teaching. Some just want to be a part of the movement. Notice that none of this caused Jesus to stop being in and among them or turning them away – we see followers themselves choose to turn away (John 6:66).Part of living missionally with God in a world of a concrete thinkers means being a concrete thinker. Click To Tweet
Part of living missionally with God in a world of a concrete thinkers means being a concrete thinker. Do we understand what is going on in their world? They are making this shift from concrete to abstract. Their body is changing. They have a lot of energy! But here is the cool thing – most desire to be disciple – to follow Jesus – they just need someone to step into their world and walk with them through it. Part of that means having fun and being silly – because it is a part of their language, of who they are as concrete thinkers. Having fun is a critical part of experiencing Family of God as a middle school student. And actually – they kind of teach us that we don’t have to be serious or have it altogether all the time. We can take time to celebrate, to play – God intended for us to enjoy being in relationship with one another.
#2. Because they can’t really understand things we should just focus on when they get older
Heres the deal – while they may be thinking concretely they are also in a critical identity formation. I know it seems more appealing to focus energy on high school students – but something happens from their 8th grade to 9th grade year that if we wait until they can think abstractly and are easier to disciple we may have missed a critical identity formation opportunity. Should we sacrifice the challenge of translating our theology to a concrete thinking level for the sake of the ease of a similar understanding? When you have to continually break it down, are continually met with blank stares – it is actually exciting! I have grown so much as I have my ConcreteDisciple huddles and walk through the Gospel, family of God, and mission with students – only to have to break it down more. It grows me to become more fluent in communicating good news to a group that is often thrown in as too young or assumed to understand.
When we trust God and ask Him to guide and seriously sit down – there is a hunger to grow. But it is in a language and tongue that speaks to them. It doesn’t mean I don’t speak truth – but I can’t use big words I’ve learned because of a degree on my wall. I can’t get upset because these are children of my heavenly Father – whom he dearly loves – and whom are simply concrete thinkers. Their minds haven’t fully developed but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth time and cannot follow Jesus right here – today.
Do you view yourself as a teacher with all the answers or a servant, coming in the likeness of a middle schooler Click To Tweet
Jesus…emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. – Philippians 2:7
Whether you are a mom or dad of a middle school student, giving your time on a weekend, leading full-time team of disciple makers, or a high school student – do you have the attitude of Christ amongst the concrete thinkers in your life? Do you view yourself as a teacher with all the answers or a servant, coming in the likeness of a middle schooler – to bring good news to their world in their language of concrete thinking. The Gospel is good news – don’t forget that – but we also have to set that base and be sure they understand that it is good news! My desire is to help and equip you to be able to do this – as we make Concrete Disciples together. How do we communicate in a concrete language? How do we challenge the process as we disciple middle school students? It is so exciting that God has allowed us to be on mission with Him to bring His good news to the world of middle schoolers.