Today I want to talk about a resource in the church that is severely under-utilized.
It’s a group of people with an incredible amount of enthusiasm. They’re fearless…often illogically so. While they can be a overly self-aware at times, they get excited about the smallest opportunity you give them. They long, they hunger, they yearn for you to commission them and give them purpose. Essentially, they’re a ball of energy looking for a place to expend it.
Have I intrigued you? Well, here it goes…
It’s your Junior High students.
This is something I’m particularly passionate about. I cut my teeth in Jr. High Ministry. I’ve been involved with the Jr. High group at our church for about 7 years. Even though I am the Youth Pastor now, I still teach this Sunday School class. I’ve had them over for sleepovers (or campouts, which are far more manly), I’ve hung out with them at McDonald’s, I’ve chaperoned their hotel rooms (that, my friends…is scary), I’ve answered the phone when they called me at 2 AM because they’re bored, I’ve let them cry on my shoulder when their girlfriend of 3 weeks broke up with them. I know the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I can tell you, it’s much more good than the rest.
I am aware, therefore, that it’s very difficult to use this age group, for a number of reasons. They are overly self-aware, so leadership roles are difficult for them. Because of their changing voices, they don’t like to sing in front of people. Their hygeine (especially the boys) is sometimes less than desirable. They are thin-skinned, so other students hurt their feelings easily. They’re also brutally honest (and by brutal, I mean BRUTAL). But I challenge you, look a little outside of the box.
What this group is particularly good at is doing whatever you give them and pouring their whole hearts into it. They don’t care if they’re up front getting their attention; they get excited about helping you put the chairs back in order after Sunday School class (seriously…I promise!). They are thrilled about being in the youth group, and they’re eager to dive in and find a way to be involved. As stated before, I know some of these things can be difficult, so here are some ways I’ve found to use them:
- Have them help you decorate something. Anything. Give them some guidence of course, as they tend to decorate with loud colors and be pretty tacky…but they love to point to the wall and say “I did that!”
- Get them involved in a service project at the church
- Assign them to assisting the Sunday School teachers with class prep work before church
- Put them on “set up/tear down” duty
- Let them ride with you and watch you when you engage in your personal ministry opportunities (they LOVE to ride along when you’re teaching a Bible Study, or visiting a nursing home, or a stopping by the home of a student who visited last week)
The biggest thing is…use them! The majority of my Youth Staff now consists of students that I’ve had in my Jr. High class. I used them, and they developed a passion for working in the kindgom of God.
As a matter of fact, I’m missing Youth Service this Friday because of a District obligation. Who’s preaching for me? One of my older Jr. High students. It’s not his first time, either.
So what about you? How are you involving your Jr. High students?