The Facebook phenomenon continues to draw in younger and younger people these days. (Am I the only one with students who “exaggerate their age” on FB?) But at the same time, older and older people are increasingly finding their way to this online network. As a result, I’m suddenly more connected with people who I went to school with… more than a couple of years ago.
And “flashing back” to our own high school and middle school years can be a real advantage for those of us in youth ministry. When potential volunteers come to check out our junior high ministry, I like to give them an on-the-spot assignment: I invite them to consider, “When you look around the room, which of these students were you most like when you were in middle school?”
- Were you the shy & quiet kid, not making eye contact with anyone?
- Were you the frenzied tornado kid, ricocheting back and forth across the room?
- Were you the kid with way more on your mind than your facial expression revealed?
A little blast from the past can go a long way toward helping you to consider what your ministry feels like to every type of kid. These days I’ve been thinking a lot about how an introverted student would experience our church. I’ve reconnected on FB with a few introverts I went to school with, and I think they’d have a harder time connecting if they were students in my group… so I’m trying to figure that one out.
But the “flashback” serves me best when I think about my own journey through middle school. How I was trying to figure myself out… and needed adults to help me. How I wanted so much to be “cool”… and yet how tricky that was. And how I had no idea how much Jesus really loved me… and what that meant for me.
When students in our ministries are adults one day, will they “flash back” and think about how much God became real to them through our efforts? May it be so!