When I tell people that I am a middle school student minister, most of the time they tell me that they feel sorry for me. The conversation goes on while they make a long lists of reasons why I must have a difficult time serving such a difficult group of students. As I hear people apologize and attempt to sympathize, my heart breaks for the person standing in front of me. They truly do not know how much of a blessing it is to minister to students – especially middle school students.
Middle school is an opportune stage of life for caring adults to truly make an eternal impact on the lives of students. During the middle school years, students are beginning to develop their own sense of self apart from their parents as they seek to discover their teenage identity. This identity is likely in many ways be centered around the priorities that will define their lives into adulthood. This creates a perfect opportunity to establish a foundation of faith development and to encourage students to be molded into the image of Jesus.
Establish Intentional Relationships
Middle school students are seeking someone somewhere to accept them and not to judge them. Even though they are sometimes very odd and awkward, many middle school students will open up to a concerned adult. Many of them are seeking adults outside of their parents to build relationships with. Through this mentor relationship, students are given someone older to talk about life, and mentors are given an opportunity to speak into the lives of students.
Point Them to Jesus
It is essential that middle school students are intentionally pointed to Jesus as the One who never fails them and the source of the answers to many of life’s questions. In building relationships with students, it can be easy for the student to attach to you instead of Jesus. We must be intentional to point students to Jesus because even though we may want to be, there will be times when we cannot be there for students. We are also clearly incapable of being our student’s savior. Jesus is the source of true life and should be the one that middle school students are looking towards.
Strengthen Them through Biblical Community
It is essential that middle school students be plugged into a web of Christian community with other students. For many students, this community is found in the local church youth group. Students should have peers at school and at church to encourage them and to help them work out what following Jesus looks like in the world of a middle school student. This Christian community can help to fill the void for acceptance that so many middle school students are seeking to fill.
Pray that the Holy Spirit Would Mold Students to Look Like Jesus
Ultimately, caring adults only play a small part in ministering to middle school students. God began His ministry in these students even before the students were born. He is continually showering His love and grace on them, and He is molding them into the image of Jesus. Abiding change comes not through our programs, our preaching, or even our intentional relationships with students. Abiding change comes through the work of the Holy Spirit in our students’ lives. We must continually beg God to work through the Holy Spirit in the lives of our students to make them more like Jesus.
Middle school ministry is a privilege – like all other forms of ministry, God has blessed some of us to be involved in His work in others lives. How has God used you in the life of a middle school student?