by Brian Downing
When I served as Youth Director for the Church of God in Louisiana, pastors would ask me how to start a High School Ministry. After asking a few questions I learned that each church had more Middle Schoolers than High Schoolers. My next suggestion startled them. I told them not to start a High School Ministry, but rather, start a Middle School Ministry. Middle School is a ministry that most churches overlook, but could be a vital part to help your Church and Student Ministry grow! Here are 5 reasons you should have a Middle School Ministry!
- Cognitive Learning – Middle schoolers are caught between two very different forms of learning. Between ages 8-10 most students learn primarily by facts or conclusive evidence. However, when puberty hits, between ages 11-14, they start sampling how life works all over again. Middle Schoolers are for the first time beginning to develop the ability to process information and understand their consequences. Middle Schoolers need to have an environment where they can learn through conclusive evidence coupled with the ability to sample these truths. There’s a reason our education system separates this age group and we’d be wise to follow suit.
- Social Development – Every generation develops social skills. Ignoring the social needs of a younger generation is dangerous! Mark Ostriecher warns of two extremes“The first is to assume that Middle Schoolers are just like adults. The second is to assume that Middle Schoolers are really just oversized children.” Middle Schoolers need to connect socially in their own way. Their social development paves the way for their spiritual development. Refusing to focus on the specific social needs of a Middle Schooler can result in a loss of an interest in Christ and your Church!
- Spiritual Growth – Middle Schoolers are truly interested in learning about Christ. However, how we teach our students is just as important as what we teach them! Middle Schoolers are not interested in learning about God through puppets or a simplified message that is aimed at a younger crowd. Likewise, Middle Schoolers do not need to be introduced to topics in which they cannot yet relate or fully comprehend. If our job is to teach God’s Word and make disciples for spiritual growth, we must do so through each age groups cognitive learning styles and social development needs.
- Forward Movement – There’s nothing greater than momentum in a church. One great way to create consistent momentum is by developing ministries with forward movement. Children’s Church that passes students to Middle School that passes students to High School can provide the forward movement which assists your students as well as the families in your Church. A Middle School Ministry could be a missing piece to creating that forward movement in your church!
- Leadership Involvement – One question I am asked regularly is, “Who should I recruit?” You should recruit all ages! Why? Because we all have talents valuable to this age group. We all have something to offer Middle Schoolers. Our students connect to the older leaders as well as our college leaders! By Starting a Middle School Ministry you can engage potential leaders for greater involvement!
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