I have been transitioning into my job at a new church and things have been going well! I am blessed by a great group of kids that have a passion to serve and learn about the Lord. The church has been very welcoming and willing to jump in and help out with the youth group where they can.
One thing I am reminded of when working in youth ministry, is to not overlook your middle school-aged kids. Your middle school group is the future of the ministry and by the time they are juniors and seniors, they will have set the bar for what the ministry will look like and be shaped by. This doesn’t mean that the high school kids you have now should be ignored, but that those high schooler are also being made aware that their actions and involvement in youth group are being watched by underclassmen. I think it can be easy for youth pastors to invest in high schoolers because they have more depth in conversations and going to their sporting events can be more exciting than middle school sporting event.
Thinking back to my middle school years, it was the most confusing time of my life as I tried to discover who I was, who my friends were, and where I fit into the social rank at school. During the time I was in middle school, we didn’t have a consistent youth pastor that was there but had some great adults that stepped in and took leadership over the youth group. It was these adults that invested their time into me that validated who I was and who God made me to be. I think the same is true for any middle school kid as they begin the search for who they are and in that search they will discover that identity and who they will be down the road.
It’s a beautiful and scary thing to be a part of a process, knowing that your involvement in these middle school kids lives will shape the rest of their lives. Obviously, the Lord is the one doing the shaping and molding, but how awesome to be used as a tool to help with the work of the Lord! May this be an encouragement to not neglect your middle school kids just because some may be awkward, have bad body odor, or are awful at sports. Keep in mind that you were once that kid struggling to find their identity and knowing you had that one person on your side, fighting in your corner despite being that awkward middle schooler!