How To Handle Middle School Students Without Going Crazy

Why is middle school youth ministry such an after thought? It basically boils down to these two reasons:

1. You hated your own middle school years and don’t want to relive it.

2. Middle school students seem like unruly, hormone driven animals and who wants that?

It’s also the perfect opportunity to grow a healthy youth ministry. Unfortunately, it scares most of us, but it doesn’t have to. If you want to do middle school youth ministry right, then you need to start:

ENCOURAGING THEM TO GO OUTSIDE THE BOX

Middle school students have so many ideas and they need a way of sharing them. Your ministry is the perfect platform to get them creating.

Instead of putting together discussion questions create projects that they can work on as a group. A few ideas to try out:

  • Recreate a Bible story via video
  • Tackling a time sensitive puzzle or problem as a group
  • Use arts and crafts to share a scripture verse
  • Give them a few dollars and challenge them to find ways of blessing others with it
  • Identify a cause and develop a method of supporting it

Big or small, make sure what ever you challenge them to do has them step a little outside of their comfort zone. As they create ideas and different forms of expression you’ll see their confidence grow.

PROVIDING PHYSICAL OUTLETS

It’s stating the obvious, but middle school students have lots of energy. The idea of asking them to sit calmly in a circle for an hour is asking a lot. It’s not impossible, but before you get there you need to get the energy out.

Before you start the discipleship allow middle school students to do something physical like:

  • Setting up physical activities during hang out time at the beginning
  • Leading large group activities that require they get up and move around
  • Incorporating physical activities in their groups
  • Allowing groups to toss around a frisbee, play cards or go for a walk during groups

Middle school students need to move. If you expect them to just sit still you’ll only find them disengaged and you highly frustrated.

EMBRACING THEIR UNPREDICTABILITY

I’ve had middle school students get stuck in chairs, fart aloud, and yell out profanities (To name a few) during profound and solemn portions of the night. While I don’t condone their behavior I don’t allow it to bother me.

So much is happening during a teen’s middle school years. Why they behave they do can vary from needing acceptance to adjusting to growth.

As a leader of youth you need to train yourself to work with the unpredictability by trusting that God is in the moment. That means preparing yourself and your team ahead of time.

Be confident in what you do so that the disruptions don’t derail you. Allow God’s grace to carry you threw those moments you want to stare down a teen for messing with your flow.

LOVING ON THEIR PARENTS CONSTANTLY

I’m not a parent of a middle school student but I can only imagine it feeling like the impossible. One day I’ll get there but in the meantime I know that like every parent they need our love.

With so much change going on in a middle school student’s life it’s going to be hard for a parent to manage it all. They need you to check-in with them and ask them, “How can I serve you?”

Let parents know that you care by making ministry to the middle school students a priority. They’ll not only thank you but become some of your biggest cheerleaders.

STAYING CONSISTENT IN THEIR LIFE

With all of the change middle school students need stability. That’s where your ministry can step into the picture. To be consistent means:

  • Clearly communicated when and where you meet
  • Providing programs, like small groups, where consistent relationships are formed
  • Committing to leading ministry for the long haul

Consistency is key to keeping teens coming back. The reason they love coming to your ministry is because they know it’s a place they can be valued and love.

What are some of the ways you are making middle school ministry rock in your church?