Middle School Ministry Made Simple

MSMMSWhen I started reading Middle School Ministry Made Simple by Kurt Johnston, I loved what he wrote about in the first chapter. He encouraged adults working with junior high/middle school students to remember their junior high years. That was a fun little trip in the way back machine.

I finished reading the book last week and thought it was an excellent overview of junior high/middle school ministry. In fact, I bought several copies for my junior high leaders at a great price (shhhh…don’t tell them – they haven’t been given the books yet).

A couple of things stood out to me from the book. The first was in the chapter on Planning Your Programs. He talked about the different types of students you have in your ministry. While I had heard these (and similar descriptions) before, it was a good reminder to me of the different students that make up a group. He identified these groups: Care Less, Curious, Caught, Committed and Contagious. I found it is easy to focus on just a couple of the groups and not consider all of the types of students when you program and plan.

In a different chapter Kurt wrote specifically to the leader of the junior high ministry and he defined several different roles the leader should take. Several stood out to me including Sell the Vision, Equip the Troops, Take the Heat, Pass the Praise and Beat the Drum. He elaborates on each role (you’ll need to get the book to see what he says), but it served as a good way to evaluate yourself if you serve as the point leader.

If you are involved in junior high/middle school ministry, this is a good resource for you and for your team.

Remember Junior High?

MSDSAAN EC012A couple of things today got me to thinking about my junior high years. Today is my birthday, but I also started reading Kurt Johnston’s book Middle School Ministry Made Simple. I picked it up for $3.99 – it’s still that price so you should grab one!

In the opening chapter, Johnston encourages the readers to think back to their junior high years. He says it is helpful as we work with junior high students to remember we were a junior high student at one time, too! It was interesting to kind of think back to my years at Memorial Park Middle School and remember what those days were like.

Johnston pointed to a website – www.infoplease.com – that provides the top news and entertainment stories of any given year. I looked up some of the highlights of my 8th grade year in middle school (1981-1982). Here are a few:

President – Ronald Reagan
Super Bowl – San Francisco d. Cincinnati
World Series – St. Louis Cardinals d. Milwaukee Brewers
NBA Championship – LA Lakers d. Philadelphia 76ers
NCAA Basketball Championship – North Carolina d. Georgetown
John Belushi died of a drug overdose
Michael Jackson released Thriller
Popular moves were E.T. and Tootsie
MTV began airing music videos

Kind of wild to see what was popular then and what has changed. So, what do you remember from your junior high years?

What Some Students Need

root beer8I saw this article from Kurt Johnston on the More Than Dodgeball website. It was a good article and a great reminder to all those who work with students that each student has different needs.

I forwarded the email to one of my volunteers who is our go-to guy at camp when it comes to homesickness. Some youth workers have the ability to be able to hone in on what a particular student needs, much like the counselor in this article.

Good article. Check it out and pass it on.

At Summer camp last month, one of our counselors faced a classic dilemma but at an increased level of intensity. One of the 7th grade boys in his cabin was homesick. But this young man wasn’t the “normal” kind of homesick. He was the “kicking, screaming, face-melting, I’m gonna break things if I don’t get to go home” kind of homesick. Faced with that scenario, what would you have done? I know what I would have done, and it wouldn’t have been as wise and warm as the response of his counselor (my response would have included some sort of mocking and shame…but that’s for another article).

First, the counselor decided to call the young man’s parents to get their input. We have a fairly strict “No calls home” policy, so HE made the phone call instead of allowing the boy to. He enlisted the dad’s advice which was, “Tell Junior that we love him and miss him and that he is absolutely not coming home.” Way to go, Dad! The counselor then delivered this “bad news” to his young friend and followed it up with what I believe was the best youth ministry question of the summer, “Since you can’t go home, is there anything I can do for you to help you make it through the night?”

The answer is one of the reasons I love junior high ministry so much.

“Well, I think a warm shower and a root beer would work,” the student replied.

So while Junior took a warm shower, his counselor made a late-night trek to the vending machine and bought the most strategic root beer in the history of youth ministry. Problem solved. The evening routine for the rest of the week? A warm shower followed by a root beer night-cap.

This little story reminds me of numerous junior high ministry principles, especially this one:

Junior high ministry is made up of all sorts of junior highers, and that requires us to be willing to minister in all sorts of ways.

A mistake junior high youth workers often make is viewing every young teen through the same developmental lens. While it’s true that, for the most part, the junior highers in your ministry are going through the same developmental changes, they are going through them in vastly different ways.

Some students need you to talk to them about sex and dating.

Some students need you to nudge them toward their next spiritual step.

Some students need you to help them see themselves as normal.

Some students need you to coach them on their friendship choices.

Some students… well, some students just need a warm shower and a root beer.

– See more at: http://www.morethandodgeball.com/junior-high/junior-high-ministry-101-warm-showers-and-root-beer/#sthash.pAnF0fgW.dpuf

After Summer Camp Talk

One of the challenges that youth ministries face after a big summer event (camp, conference, retreat, etc) is the emotional letdown.  We use phrases like “spiritual highs” and “mountaintop experiences” to describe the emotions and experiences from the event.  Then, we come back to “real life” and have the challenge of putting into practice what was committed during the week.  Josh Griffin, High School Pastor at Saddleback, posted this video on his blog.  Kurt Johnston is the speaker and he does a good job of helping students work through the “after camp” experience.

This is good advice for both students and adult.