A few years ago we took a big risk and launched our first middle school environment at RELEVANT student ministry and we called that gathering THE MIX. It’s been several years and a name change since that launch but it was one of the best moves we ever made in student ministry culture. We discovered that if you want to shape the health of your high school ministry then focus your efforts on middle school students!
It was a great adventure building this environment from scratch and we learned so much from week to week as we worked to create a great environment for middle school students. Investing in the lives of middle school students pays off big in the end even though in 6th grade we can’t imagine how! Here are 5 principles we learned as we launched our middle school experience…
- Explain everything >> never assume that your middle school audience knows what you are talking about. EXPLAIN everything and the explain it again.
- Have fun >> seriously, you have to laugh and laugh often in your middle school environment. Make it happen, have some fun!
- Build around small groups >> middle school teens need an adult who is looking out for them. Middle School ministry has to be rooted in caring adult mentoring and healthy small groups where teens can discover community.
- Less is more >> less time singing and less time speaking are the key to helping middle school students connect with the content. Middle School students love to worship and study scripture they are just not ready for your “John Piper” talk. (just kidding) Keep it clear and remember if you usually do 4-5 songs in high school cut it to three is middle school. If you speak for 30-35 minutes in high school cut it to 20-25 with middle school.
- Always remember the boys >> make sure you are thinking about the boys in your group as you plan worship, plan games, and prepare for your talk. Girls are much more confident in middle school, boys are a stage where they are constantly cautious. Keep the guys in mind!