And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles…
– Luke 6:13
So Jesus, as we know, does some really cool things. Jesus calls out these twelve dudes who become the apostles – these core disciples who experience a lot more of Jesus than the crowds experience. When Jesus withdraws from the crowds, or when Jesus moves locations to different crowds – these dudes go with him. They don’t just experience the big, awe moments with Jesus – they experience the everyday in and out moments like traveling from town to town – as well as their own “awe” moments such as when Jesus calmed the storm.
In middle school ministry it is critical to move beyond the crowd into the twelve. I must admit – sometimes I get stuck in the crowd because I feel pressure from other ministries (playing the compare game) or my Elders (the attendance game) but there is something about those twelve moments.
When I get to roll with a small group of dudes, my twelve, for an entire year – it is pretty cool. When I get to move with them from sixth grade to eighth grade – we have lots of memories to share. We experience the crowds together – and we experienced our own moments. We had our own traveling moments – and we had our own storms to calm.
#1 There will be drama
Rolling with 12 middle schoolers – whether guys or girls – will result in drama. You saw it with the apostles too – they argued about who would be the greatest (Mark 9) and similarly your students may compete for time with you – saying they are of more importance than the other students. Especially with girls – my wife has her own drama in trying to get her 12 to be all-together, they often want one on one time. But its funny – Jesus really only evangelized one on one – but in discipleship there were always others around.
#2 They will be known
Middle schoolers really want to be known. You can tell if you look at the world a middle schooler lives in. How many followers do I have on Instagram? How many kids liked my photo? Who talked about me and the goal I scored at our lacrosse tournament? When you have the chance to roll with 12 students for an entire year or more – you really get to know them. And they realize they are known by you. Jesus – bear with me (he obviously being fully-God and fully-man, knew everything) but he knew his disciples. He knew who was going to argue, who was going to say something stupid, and who was going to betray him. I, obviously, am not as knowledgable as Jesus. But my dudes who I rolled with – I knew them. By the time 8th grade year rolled around, I knew who was about to do something stupid on the retreat. I knew whose Twitter account I needed to constantly monitor. I knew who I could call on to lead and the others would instantly follow. I knew just by looking who had a really sucky week because they acted different – something others wouldn’t pick up on. Because they were known.
#3 They will be loved
This one plays into my next post on when there are three – but I think this is something critical. Deep down, beyond us being known we crave to be loved by someone. That moment I finally grasped that Jesus loved me – in spite of all my knuckle-headedness, man that was crazy. And that I had moments of turning my back on church and youth group – and my leader still loved me enough to grab coffee with me – modeling the relentless, unconditional love of Jesus. That is crazy. And thats something you can’t do with the crowds – and sometimes can’t do with the 12…