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3 Keys to a Great Junior High Lesson

If I was allowed one “silver bullet” for any aspect of junior high ministry, I know EXACTLY in which direction I would fire: I would take dead aim at the lesson time. Over the years, nothing about JH ministry has nagged at me like the ongoing effort to create good learning experiences.

But, I have had some good moments as a teacher and there seems to be a few things present almost every time things go well? Almost all of my good lessons are:

SHORT: the only people who like long sermons are preachers. And the same can be said about JH ministry…if your lessons are long, you are most likely the only one having fun. I have NEVER heard a JH student complain about a short lesson. I typically aim for 20 minutes. I know that sounds short, but it forces me to really think about what I want to include, and how to maximize the lesson time.

INTERACTIVE: almost every time the lesson goes well, there
has been some sort of interactive element. Things like allowing for questions, providing some discussion time, using students as “props”, creating some hands-on element to the leson, etc.

FUN: when learning is made fun, it is way more likely to stick. I have a good friend who teaches 7th grade math. She makes what could be arguably the most boring subject on planet earth incredibly fun by routinely dressing up as characters, writing rap songs etc to reinforce
the lessons. As a result, her math class is one of the most popular on her campus. Making your lessons fun doesn’t take much effort. In fact, if they are short and interactive you are halfway there! Here are some other ways to make it fun: tell personal stories…especially ones that poke fun at yourself. Use video clips to reinforce or illustrate a point. Become a master at the art of object lessons.

The truth is…there is no silver bullet for JH lessons, but keeping them short, interactive and fun is a pretty good plan B.

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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.