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I am a full-time youth minister in Western Kentucky. I have been in youth ministry for 11 years, mainly in rural areas.

We’re facing an interesting development in youth ministry in our community.

As part of money-saving reorganization effort, the local school system (in addition to closing several schools) plans to move sixth grade from middle school to elementary.  While that makes it easier for busing and facilities for school, it poses a plethora of problems for many youth ministries in our area.

What do you do with sixth grade?

In my youth ministry, we’re about old school.  Youth is strictly 7-12 grade.  However, for many churches in our area, sixth graders are part of youth.  After all, they attend middle school, so naturally they fit in with the youth demographic.  Many churches, following the middle school lead, now have sixth graders firmly entrenched in youth.

So what do you do now?

This is the question facing many of my peers.  It’s not as easy a solution as you would imagine.  Each choice produces unforeseen ripples.

Choice one:  Keep everything the same.  While that sounds easy, it’s not.  Separated from middle school, these students will no longer have social connections with seventh and eighth grade students.  Socially, the potential exists for sixth graders to be outsiders in the group.  Also, the sixth grade schedule will revolve round elementary activities and events instead of the middle school.  Imagine coordinating around the elementary, middle and high school schedule.

Choice two:  Move the sixth graders back to the children’s ministry.  This requires a reorganization of the entire church ministry.  Sixth graders would have to have their own Sunday School class.  Fifth graders, who for a year have anticipated coming to youth, must now wait another year to join.  The children’s ministry will now swell with extra students, requiring extra volunteers.

What do you do?

It’s an interesting dilemma and one I’ve never had to face.  When asked for advice, I really don’t know what to say.

What about you?

If sixth grade is no longer in middle school, what do you do about your youth program?  I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment below and get this conversation going.  You answers may literally help someone in my community.

 

 

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