I've always been honest that Jr High ministry isn't a sweetspot for me. I have to work hard at being a decent youth pastor to Jr high Students. You can read some of my thoughts on this here
I don't always understand or get Jr High students & know that soon I'll two of them living in my house!
However I have always seen & allowed Jr High students to be them. To express themselves, share openly & as a ministry leader I've always tried to help create that. I value having an impact on Jr High students in helping them learn & express where they are at in life, especially in relationship to learning what faith in Christ is about.
The last two weeks I've been reminded this by these two pieces of paper-
For the 7th grade jr high girl who draws these during our message time it is her way of processing the morning & applying it. She leaves me this scrap of paper each week as a "See! This is what I learned" type moment. I also notice that her bulletin has notes of what she wants to do during the week. As a youth pastor this warms my heart & I love seeing stuff like this from students!
As ministry leaders there are few things I always try to remind myself;
1- Not every student is engaged as we'd like them to be while they are around our ministry settings. The voices, distractions, baggage, emotionally & physical energy, amount of sleep, conversation with a parent earlier....all of this and more can obscure a student from being present. However that doesn't have to stop us from being present to them. I'm often reminding myself that the students I see have a lot going on, but when they are around me I need to be a face & voice that is encouraging to them in any way possible when they are around me.
2- Not every student is ignoring the messages we communicate in our ministry settings even if their body language says otherwise. Notes like this remind me that a student that is "doodling" isn't always ignoring me. The student with a scowl on their face while I teach may actually be wrestling with something so strongly that their face is expressing frustration and it's not with me. The students talking in the corner during a worship service may actually be sharing prayer requests with each other. As often as I remind myself of point one I am also reminding myself of point two.
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