Taking Your Ministry Beyond Duct Tape, Dodge Ball and Double-Dog Dares

The book that Scott Rubin and I co-authored has just been released, and its subtitle reminds me of a few important junior high ministry principles. The book is Kurt and Scott’s Junior High Adventure…Taking Your Ministry Beyond Duct Tape, Dodge Ball and Double-Dog Dares.

You may be thinking, “Wow, if there are lessons to be learned in the sub-title alone, the actual book must be amazing.” Okay, you probably aren’t thinking that, but you should be, and you would be correct.

Lesson #1: Don’t Overuse Something, Even If Your Students Love It.
There are few things our junior high guys would rather do as a group than play dodge ball. They absolutely love it, and our twice-annual dodge ball tournament attracts a ton of kids. It is so tempting to play it once a month or even weekly, but we avoid that temptation because something that is loved can quickly become tired, boring and old if it’s over used. The ‘shelf life’ of games, events, songs, etc. can really be lengthened if you avoid the temptation to overuse them.

Lesson #2: Don’t Do Anything You Wouldn’t Do If Parents Were Watching.
I absolutely love duct tape! Because I’m not very handy, I will use duct tape as a fix-all solution. Busted pipe? Duct tape. Broken handle? Duct tape. Talkative 7th grader? Duct tape. But here’s the catch: Although it sounds fun to duct tape a kid to the flag pole or wrap his head in the stuff, parents often take issue with those sorts of activities. What sounds fun and innocent to a 24-year-old youth worker can easily be viewed differently by a 42-year-old mom. My suggestion is to run your games, events, etc. through the filter of “Would I feel comfortable doing this if this child’s mom or dad were watching?”

Lesson #3: Double-Dog Dares Are Dumb.
Think about it: By the time you allow a challenge or dare to get to this point, it’s obviously something that shouldn’t be happening at youth group. “I double-dog dare you to run onto the highway and try to jump onto the hood of a moving car” isn’t a challenge you want one of your junior highers rising to! Now, I suppose “I double-dog dare you to memorize the Apostle’s Creed” is okay, but somehow I don’t think that’s the dare your kids are coming up with. Again, if it’s not something you would feel comfortable happening with a parent watching, I’d suggest double-dog daring something a little less problematic.

Junior high ministry often has a reputation of being concerned with nothing more than dodge ball, duct tape and double-dog dares. Let’s be leaders who help break that perception.   

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Kurt Johnston
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.