Navigating the Awkward in Middle School Small Groups

Have you ever walked into a room full of middle schoolers, and they just stared at you? 

Or avoided eye contact? 

Or pretended not to notice that you walked into the room? 

Or immediately looked down at their phone? 

Or started whispering?

Have you ever tried to talk to a group of middle schoolers that you didn’t know very well? 

You asked a question, and nobody wanted to be the first one to answer. 

And if they did answer, it’s with only one word. 

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Ashley Bohinc
The Biggest Difference Between Recruiting Middle and High School Small Group Leaders

One thing I would guess most youth pastors have in common is that they don’t have enough volunteers. And when you don’t have a ton of volunteers, you can’t really be too picky about who you choose to lead your students. 

Or can you?

At a conference this past year, I was asked this question: “What are the qualities and characteristics you look for in a middle school Small Group Leader versus a high school Small Group Leader?”

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Ashley Bohinc
A Crash Course on Middle Schoolers

When you really understand the way a middle schooler thinks, relates, processes, and connects, it changes the way you are able to reach them. It shapes every decision you make about your programming and the people you invite into it. 

When you really understand middle schoolers, you will better be able to relate to and reach them where they are right now. 

Here are some resources I suggest you start with:

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Ashley Bohinc
The Recipe for Developing an Authentic Faith of Their Own

If you have worked with middle schoolers for more than a week, I would bet my bank account that after you tell people what you do and who you serve, they look at you and say, “Oh bless your heart. I’m sorry. That’s a hard job that I’d never want.”  

Early in my career of middle school ministry, I would just respond with a simple, “Oh yeah, thanks.” But over the years I have learned to respond differently.

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Ashley Bohinc
Hacks on What Your Volunteers Really Want

In this episode I had the chance to chat with the one and only, Justin Knowles, about what volunteers really want from you as a leader. There are many times in which try and do all these random things to get our leaders on track or to make sure they are taken care of, but in this episode of the Youth Ministry Hacks Podcast, we talk about what they really desire.

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Ashley Bohinc
The Four Faith Skills

How do you know if your students are actually growing in their faith?

How do you as the Youth Pastor, Sunday School Teacher, or Small Group Leader help students grow in their relationship with God?

Is it just about what you teach them?

Or is there more?

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Ashley Bohinc
My Recommended Reading List

During the first year I was in full-time ministry, I made a New Year’s goal to read 50 books that year. Looking back, I realize that’s a bit aggressive, considering they were all non-fiction for the most part. 

At the time, it sounded like a great goal to me. I was transitioning out of the education system and a volunteer position and into full-time ministry. I knew I had a lot to learn, and I was motivated. 

Over the years I have continued to read as much as I can. So I have put together a list of 50 of my favorite books that have been influential in my life over the last eight years. 

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Ashley Bohinc