Working with junior high students requires a passion that is definitely God-given, and your students deserve that passion just as much as every other student at your church.
As a leader, you understand the unique, and often smelly environment, that is junior high.
They can be awkward, clumsy, thoughtful and considerate.
Junior highers are a mishmash of emotions, hormones, and energy all rolled up into an almost grown-up human being.
So it’s important to not underestimate and undervalue their importance in following Jesus.
During these years, they are seeking independence, but need wisdom.
They desire privacy, but want interaction and communication.
They require understanding and really need direction.
It’s a constant tug-of-war between their desires and needs.
It is so important to invest time, love, and effort into these young people and show them they are truly important at this stage in their lives.
So, here are 3 reasons junior high ministry is really important:
1. Junior high students are looking for role models.
They need people to look up to for guidance, but they are probably not going to come right out and say it.
Although they are growing more independent, they still have questions that need answers.
They need you.
Not just as the one who organizes summer camp or goes with them to concerts and theme parks, but as someone who invests in them.
As a leader, you can impact these young men and women by pointing them in the right direction of following Jesus.
And it does take time.
And that time is spent learning about likes and dislikes, dreams and ambitions, and pointing them to Jesus. Pointing out what God is doing in their lives, maybe in ways they’ve never recognized before.
Besides parents and guardians, you may be one of the most important influences in their lives without even knowing it.
Find something in common with students and be a part of their discussions.
Be sure not to miss out on an opportunity to speak into their lives.
2. Junior high students have a lot of energy that can be channeled for good.
Part of the energy most junior high students exhibit can manifest itself as extreme emotions and hormones.
And that excitement can be contagious.
The energy that junior high students bring to a room is uncontainable.
They seem to become excited about almost anything at the drop of a hat.
High school students don’t understand their excitement and can easily be annoyed with their enthusiasm.
But their passion can be a blessing to your ministry that others might overlook.
Focus their energy into your group.
Find the leaders, the influencers, the ones that others look up to.
Encourage and direct their energy to lead fellow students to participate in activities and events.
That leadership can lead to excitement about serving God.
When the “cool kids” do it, others will be sure to follow.
3. Junior high students want to feel accepted.
Acceptance is one of the most powerful driving forces for 6th-8th graders.
Their search for independence and how they will fit in with their peers influences their choices and activities.
Think about it – when you ask students if they want to attend an activity, the first question from their mouth is usually, “Who else is going?”
It usually doesn’t matter what the event is, just who will be there.
It’s in junior high that students discover what group they fit into, and many will form lifelong friendships.
Band, drama, sports, and other school activities (in a normal non-COVID environment) provide opportunities for junior high students to find acceptance and friendship with others who have similar interests.
Along with forming relationships with peers from church.
The culture you create for students can shape how they view things like serving, worship, fellowship, and acceptance.
Although you may not see an immediate result or reward, you can know that you are joining with parents and other leaders in shaping the interests and desires of the future world-changers.
Keep up the great work you’re doing!
Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
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Image credit at top: Junior High Ministry of Crossroads Christian Church in Corona, CA.