Here is a confession of this youth pastor; I am NOT wired for junior high ministry and I never have been. I can pull off junior high camp, events, connect with leaders, but the week-in and week-out just isn’t me. I find that I have to work very hard to stay engaged with junior high ministry. It’s not that I don’t like junior high students, quite the contrary, I just find myself more engaged with high school ministry. I care about the students knowing Jesus and being students who'll step into the high school ministry very soon; I just can't get amped about the day-to-day leadership.
I’ve gone to workshops, read books, talked to the “pros” to try to gain as much leadership perspective as possible about junior high ministry. I love the crazy ideas and “story time” junior high students have—in fact I’m pretty sure I laugh more with junior high ministry. But I want to be an effective pastor to the junior high students who are under my care, even if it isn't my passion.
So here is how a non-junior-high youth pastor does junior high ministry.
1- High five. Call it simple but I high five any and every junior high student I see. I want to try to communicate I acknowledge and their existence.
2- Postcards. I mail out postcards to students in junior high as often as possible I make a killer graphic that takes up a lot of space, write out a simple note and mail postcards each week to different students.
3- Funny videos. Junior high boys are kings at finding useless, random YouTube videos. But I try to use their videos suggestions they tell me about in an upcoming message.
4- I find great leaders who will love students. I can’t do this ministry alone and I need other leads to help me love on these students. I confess to them that I am not a great junior high pastor, but collectively we all can make a great team. I’m still waiting and looking for a great leader to take over my job in this area!
5- I leverage events, camps & retreats. I’m okay helping our junior high ministry be healthy by revolving around specific and intentional events.
6- I’m ok going back to the whiteboard. If a message, event, or any idea doesn’t work, we try something else. We’re okay failing.
7- We tell students WE LIKE YOU. This is a message I believe junior high students need. That they are liked and we, their ministry leaders, like them a lot. We want them around and we value their lives.
I know this list won’t write a book or revolutionalize the next junior high ministry conference, but for our ministry we hope it's working. If you're like me you like feedback, I'd love to hear your ideas on how you stay effective for junior high ministry!