Middle School Is Complicated

As a youth pastor, I work with different middle school students on a weekly basis. Myself and other adults sometimes respond to a middle school student in a lost sort of way. We do not understand the reason they are emotional over some small thing that happened at school or something someone said. As adults, we sometimes want to simply say, “Get over it. When you get older you’ll realize how ridiculous you are being.” The problem is, it is not that simple.

Middle school is complicated.

timthumbLast week, I listened to a podcast titled “This American Life.” The week’s show focused on the subject of middle school. They decided to have a show looking at middle school students because a young girl, who had just graduated from middle school, wrote in asking if they would look at the subject and see if other students had a similar experience as she had during those years. The common theme heard from students was how middle school was and is terrible. Why? (You can listen to this specific podcast here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/449/middle-school)

As I listened to the six stories during this podcast, I was brought to moments of laughter, intrigue and even heartbreak. I was left feeling worried for my three children who will one-day adventure into the world of middle school. This podcast also caused me to realize, once again, how the minds, hearts and lives of middle school students are not always as they seem.

In youth ministry, I am commonly called crazy for being willing to work with such crazy students. At times I think I am crazy as well, but what keeps me going is being able to see beyond the surface level craziness and discovering the heart of a student. Middle school is a rollercoaster of life development, physically and mentally. If we are not prepared to ride the rollercoaster with them, the middle school students are left to fend for themselves. We cannot let that happen. We must be prepared as pastors and as parents.

middle_school_cover_image1

Several years ago Cynthia Tobias and Sue Acuna wrote a book titled: “Middle School: The Inside Story.” I cannot recommend this book enough to youth pastors and parents. Tobias and Acuna look at what is taking place in the world of our middle schoolers today, the physical changes and the mental changes. The authors also give sound advice for how to parent during these transformational years. My oldest son just turned four years old, but this book has already given me insight for how to journey with my son as he draws closer to the middle school years.

As parents and youth pastors, let us not abandon our middle schoolers on the rollercoaster of pre-teen life. Let us ride the coaster and show them the love of God along the way.

You can become more prepared by pick up a copy of “Middle School: The Inside story” at Amazon.com.


e-ink-km_vday_associate_300x250

A Youth Pastor’s Must Read: Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World

 

51KjG3d-XpL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

I have been a youth pastor for six years now. One thing that I have learned from these years of ministry is that part of being a good youth pastor, or a good pastor in general, is the ability to be a continuous learner. I never assume what I know and understand about youth ministry is the best or even most satisfactory way to minster. Youth ministry is a constant race to keep up with your students.

A few years ago, I sent a message out to some of my fellow youth pastor friends asking for book recommendations. A friend recommended a book, by Brock Morgan, titled “Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World: A Hopeful Wake-Up Call.” I proceeded to purchase it, but it sat on my kindle for a year and a half before I finally sat down to read Morgan’s book.

In case you are someone who doesn’t like reading a lot of writing or you are skimming this post, I want to make this clear from the beginning. If you are youth pastor in the United States and have not read “Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World: A Hopeful Wake-Up Call,” GO AND PURCHASE IT AMAZON NOW and read it.

I genuinely believe it is a must read for any youth pastor and even some lead pastors. Morgan does an amazing job of painting a picture of the world and mindset of the students in our youth ministries. Further, he explains why the methods of our youth ministry past might not be working any more.

He touches on subject like:

  • What defines the post-Christian world (as I am sure some of you are already asking, but I don’t want to take away from his book).
  • What are post-Christian world students looking for in faith?
  • How to properly define success in youth ministry
  • How to keep your focus and keep going

Ministry is a constantly changing field. Even more so when it comes to the youth of our churches. As youth ministers, we sometimes bear the heavy burden and expectations of keeping students in our churches. If we hope to even succeed, we best understand our ministry purpose and the students we are ministering too.

This post is not really a book review. This post is a book recommendation. If you are interested in reading Morgan’s book, you can click here to head over to amazon and purchase a physical copy of kindle version.

I want to close this recommendation with a quote from “Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World: A Hopeful Wake-Up Call.”

“The essence of youth ministry is to create environments where students can experience the warmth of God. With every talk we give, every game or activity we lead, and every time we run into students at the mall, they experience God’s warmth. And that’s because our relationship with Jesus is our ministry.”

Morgan, Brock (2013-09-24). Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World: A Hopeful Wake-Up Call (Kindle Locations 159-161). The Youth Cartel. Kindle Edition.

————————————————————————


gc_gen_assoc-300x250

30 Days With Wesley – Day 30: The Send Off

30 Days with Wesley(Optional Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

Today’s optional reading is very fitting for the 30th day of this book. It it Paul’s Biblical send off to his readers in 1 Thessalonians. He writes,

Now, may the God of peace himself cause you to be completely dedicated to him; and may your spirit, soul, and body be kept intact and blameless at our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming. The one who is calling you is faithful and will do this.

It is a beautiful send of. It fits so well for today. If you have been journeying with me through these 30 days with Wesley, I probably have never met you in person and we are not close friends. Though if you are a follower of Jesus like I am, I know that we are both on the same journey of seeking after Christ and letting him transform our lives on a daily basis.

It is this common ground that I send you off. May God keep us dedicated to him and may we be found blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours,

now and forever.

Amen. 

How did you like the journey of 30 Days with Wesley? Let me know in the comments below.

30 Days With Wesley – Day 29: The Secret To Genuine Faith

Genuine Stamp Showing Real Certified Product(Optional Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-19)

What is genuine faith? What does it look like? How do you know if you have it? Faith is sometimes a complicated subject to think about? What does it mean to have faith? Peter writes and states, “You now rejoice in this hope, even if it’s necessary for you to be distressed for a short time by various trials. This is necessary so that your faith may be found genuine.

Faith is not hard to have. There is the classic example that you have faith in a chair to hold you up. You have faith that your computer is going to work for you so that you can read this post. We have faith in many different things. But what is it that take faith from its regular state and transforms it into genuine faith?

According Peter, it is the test of time. Does your faith stay stable and strong in the face of conflict and testing? When your faith can face something difficult and trying time of life, you can come out knowing that your faith is not a shallow faith but one of genuine faith.

Peter goes on to say that genuine faith is worth fighting for. He states, “(Your faith is more valuable than gold, which will be destroyed even though it is itself tested by fire.) Your genuine faith will result in praise, glory, and honor for you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” May your faith be transformed today and may you find that you have genuine faith.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours,

now and forever.

Amen.