There are certainly elements to preaching that are universal for any situation where somebody wants to improve their ability to communicate the Bible. At the same time there are also elements to preaching that are specifically important to remember when your audience is in middle school ministry. Most of my preaching happens in the context of our middle school ministry, and as I have done this I have learned that there are certain things that are unique about preaching to this age group. I am often reminded of my own failure to remember some of these important principles, so sharing them is a helpful reminder to me that as I preach the Bible to junior high students.
Don’t underestimate them.
When I first started working with middle schoolers, I often underestimated their ability to talk about spiritual things, especially when it came to listening to a message. Middle school students may still be young, but they can also really explore what it means to live our their Christian faith. Don’t underestimate a middle schooler’s interest in studying the scriptures and the possibility of them actually trying to live out what you are teaching. It may often seem like they are only interested in video games, One Direction, and making farting noises, but the truth is that in the midst of this they also often take seriously what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Share your failures.
Middle school students are full of insecurities as they go through the changes that accompany adolescence. Adolescence commonly includes the feeling that there is an audience watching and picking apart everything that is wrong with a student. Because of this insecurity, you can relate to your students very strongly by talking about your failures. Share about the times where you got stuffed into a locker, beat up your little brother, or got cut from the basketball team.
I rarely can get through a message to our students without some interruption. It is simply part of being a middle school minister. If I want to encourage my students to feel comfortable enough to be themselves and have fun while we are gathered together, sometimes they will talk when they shouldn’t be talking. This doesn’t mean I encourage interruptions when I am in the middle of a sermon, but I cannot let the fact that I get interrupted completely throw me off from communicating what I had planned.
Don’t forget about fun.
If fun isn’t a value in your middle school ministry, their probably won’t be students in your middle school ministry. Middle school students value fun so as you prepare your lesson make sure that students can have fun as they learn the Bible. I commonly let our students know that I want us to have fun as we study the Bible in our messages, as we talk about it in our groups, and as we hang out before and after classes. The fun looks different in each of those elements, but it certainly can and should be fun to open up the Bible. This doesn’t mean we ignore difficult issues that wouldn’t be fun, but we can be sure to find ways to incorporate fun even into the most difficult of topics.
What are some things you have noticed when teaching middle school students?
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