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The 3 Most Important Pieces of Junior High Ministry

I was recently asked what I believe to be the three most important aspects of a healthy junior high ministry. I hesitated because I don’t think I’ve ever been asked to narrow junior high ministry down to the THREE most important pieces. For me, passion for Jesus and a desire to point junior highers toward a relationship with Him is assumed in ministry to junior highers, so that wasn’t included in my answer. Here is what I came up with, in order of importance:

3) Patience. Nothing good happens overnight. It takes time to build a “junior high ministry culture” in most churches. It takes time to develop a team of dedicated volunteers. It takes time to figure out how junior high ministry differs from high school ministry, etc.

2) Caring Adults Who LIKE Junior Highers. Every Christian loves junior high kids … they have to because it’s part of the Christian code to love each other. But most adults don’t LIKE junior highers. Adults who are comfortable and actually enjoy being around quirky, insecure, high-energy, question-filled, obnoxious junior highers are hard to find, but vital to a healthy junior high ministry.

1) A Church Dedicated to the Cause. Is the church excited about young teen ministry? Is it willing to resource the ministry by providing a meeting space, tossing a few dollars its direction, helping you recruit qualified leaders (even if those leaders decide to abandon their current place of volunteerism)? Is the church going to rally behind your efforts to minister to junior high parents and to nudge the entire congregation toward recognizing that young teens desperately need to be valued and included in the overall life of the church … allowed to use their gifts, be themselves and be embraced by the entire church family instead of being relegated to the “junior high area”?

That’s my BIG THREE: An excited church, caring adults and patience. What would your BIG THREE include?  

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Kurt Johnston has been involved in junior high ministry since 1988 and is currently the junior high pastor at Saddleback Church in Southern California. He's the author of Controlled Chaos: Making Sense of Junior High Ministry and Go Team! He loves providing resources for junior high ministry almost as much as he loves junior highers themselves.