The high school students who gather at our church once a week seem to find in one another an important cohort where they feel they belong and can be themselves. Junior high students not so much.
Youth ministry with junior high kids has been tricky for as long as I’ve been here. Middle school is 7th and 8th grade in this community, so you’ve got half the target community as high school. But there are other obstacles. This age is characterized for most junior highers by such a high level of self-consciousness that it takes a leader more skilled than I to engage students in conversations in which they will offer anything more than a glum nod or stream-of-consciousness rant. That’s junior high for you. It’s beautiful. It’s a nightmare.
Talking with my colleague today, I started to wonder if the weekly junior high youth group is useful to our students at all right now. Maybe we can serve them better by offering them occasional gatherings that are low-risk and yet still interactive, that blend the bubbly girls with the Eor boys and the All Star boys with the wallflower girls, that are easy entry points to relationships for students and their friends with adults in the church who care about them. Maybe once a month?
Is this a junior high ministry model anywhere that you know of?