Middle school students are very concrete thinkers. Because of that, the idea of living a life of worship can be a difficult idea to grasp if not explained properly. If we are not careful, worship can easily get wrapped up into the times when we sing and be disconnected from everyday life. How can we teach middle school students about an idea that is so important, yet often misunderstood within our churches?
Tell them what it is.
If you want to teach middle schoolers what worship is, you need to be clear about what it is. Worship is anything we do in response to God for who he is and what he's done. If you believe that, help clarify what you mean when you say the word anything to your students. You can play video games with your friend and it be worshipful. You can worship as you do your homework. You can worship as you hang out with your friends. And you can even worship as you sing songs to Jesus. In all of these, it's not about just having "God-thoughts" while doing these things, but doing them in a way that honors God. When you are with your friends and you choose to honor God in your thoughts, conversations, and decisions because of what God has done for you and shown you, you are worshipping.
Teach them why we do it.
If we go into a time of musical worship without an understanding of the motivation behind it, we aren't worshipping, we are just singing songs. Teach your kids about why we sing the songs; teach them why we should live a life of worship. Worship is anything we do in response to God for who he is and what he has done; if we aren't doing it in view of who God is and what he's done, it's not worship. Whenever we have a "worship experience" for middle school students, we make sure that we are very clear about the motivation to our singing. We get to dance, to sing, to shout, and to be crazy because Jesus died on the cross for our sins!
Show them how to do it.
Junior high students will learn how this whole worship thing should work by watching you. We can teach students about worship when we talk to them, but we can teach them even more about worship through our actions. In your interactions with parents, are you modeling a life of worship? As you sing songs with the students, how do you model musical worship to your students? As you deal with you plans getting thrown off on your summer retreat, are you worshipping in the midst of the difficulties?
Photo Credit: Heather Burks