A Crash Course on Middle Schoolers
I don’t know how you found yourself working with middle schoolers.
Maybe you took the job as the youth pastor, really because you wanted to work with high schoolers, but middle schoolers were part of the package deal.
Maybe you were hired into middle school ministry because you are brand new to ministry and that’s the spot they want to start you in.
Or maybe you chose it!
No matter the reason you are leading middle school ministry, you are here. And if you want to lead well with what you have been entrusted with, you will need to dig in and learn as much as you can about the middle school phase.
Because 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 (Let's be honest, middle schoolers are changing extremely fast and culture even faster. Which means even those of us who have worked with middle schoolers for 10+ years are still on the crash course ourselves)
Here are some resources I suggest you start with:
Read these books:
- Middle School Ministry– Scott Rubin & Mark Oestreicher
- It’s Just A Phase– Kristen Ivy & Reggie Joiner
- Caught in Between– Dan Scott
- Brainstorm Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain - Daniel J. Siegel
- Parent Phase Guides - Kristen Ivy and Reggie Joiner
- A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the Teenage Brain- Mark Oestreicher
- Controlled Chaos - Kurt Johnston and Justin Herman (re-releasing Fall 2018)
- Middle School Ministry Made Simple– Kurt Johnston
- 99 Thoughts About Jr. High Ministry– Kurt Johnston
- Planet Middle School– Dr. Kevin Leman
Check out these BLOGS:
- XP3 Students
- Just A Phase
- Lead Small
- Ashley Bohinc
- Middle Years Ministry
- Fuller Youth Institute
- Middle School Youth Ministry
- Youth Specialties
Listen to these podcasts:
- Controlled Chaos– Justin Herman (the entire podcast is for Junior High youth workers and it's incredible)
- Rethinking Youth Ministry– Episode 28: Should MS & HS be separate?
- Rethinking Youth Ministry– Episode 26: Gen Z
- Rethinking Youth Ministry– Episode 04: How are MS & HS students different?
- DYM Create– Episode 06: Middle School Curriculum Strategies
- Family Ministry Podcast– Episode 109: 3 Pillars of Jr. High Ministry
- Family Ministry Podcast– Episode 89: Engaging Middle Schoolers in Large & Small group
- Youth Ministry Interviews: Mentor Me– Episode 13: Katie Edwards on Volunteers and Jr. High Ministry
Watch these movies:
Explore these YouTube channels:
- Go observe a minimum of 10 different middle school services at different churches, led by different people. Take notes.
- Ask to sit in a planning meeting or production meeting prior to the service you are observing to learn from the process and filters they think through.
- Check out any Youth Ministry or Adolescent Development courses on iTunes University.
- Volunteer or apply to substitute teach at the local middle school.
- Coach a middle school sports team
What other resources would you add to this list? I'd love to know!