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An Uncommon JH Ministry Part 1

Somewhere in our conversation last week, Mark Riddle and I found ourselves talking about common denominators found in youth groups around the country.

As we talked, we realized that there are many things that seem “common”, that maybe shouldn’t be…or that, at the very least, should be looked at more carefully to see how these practices impact our ministry settings.

So, with that conversation as a backdrop, I began thinking about what a
more “uncommon” junior high ministry might look like. I hope to make a short blog series out of this….we will see. And please add your thoughts, push backs, etc. This truly is just me thinking out loud.

AN UNCOMMON JH MINISTRY REFUSES TO MINISTER OUT OF STEREOTYPES
Too often I find myself saying things like, “junior highers ________” or “Our volunteers need____________” or “Nobody in our group _________”. As a result, I make ministry decisions for everybody based on trends of a few.
Obviously, we have to make sweeping policies, decisions etc, but an UNCOMMON way to approach JH ministry might be to look for every opportunity to do the hard work of ministering to people as individuals, and not only as part of the larger body.

AN UNCOMMON JH MINISTRY IS WILLING TO LOWER THE BAR
Yep, I said it….I think many junior high ministries actually need to lower the bar. Instead of hoping our students live out their faith the way a more mature 17 year old follower of Jesus might, perhaps we should do what seems UNCOMMON, and lower the bar by simply helping students live out their faith in a 12-14 year old way. I’m not suggesting we always lower the bar for every student…but just be willing to. Doing this, by the way, happens best when we get to know students as individuals, rather than taking then spiritual pulse of our group and collectively raising or lowering the bar.

More UNCOMMON ideas to follow. Share your thoughts.

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kurtjohnston@churchleaders.com'
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.