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 thejunior 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, I’d love to hear your ideas on how you stay effective for junior high ministry!

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  • Matt Beeman says:

    A little disappointed this has been on here for 9 months without any comments, maybe saying “I’m doing this to the best of my ability even though I don’t feel called to it” is like putting a big “A” on your chest, the unspoken sin that many people don’t want to admit. If that were the only thing you were doing, I would encourage a change, and I know that it takes a different set of skills to be in JH/MS vs. HS ministry and it sounds like you are doing both for the time being, but thankful that you are understanding your calling and not just “putting in time” with them. Hopefully God will bless that and give you a JH/MS leader that can do all that and feel like it is his calling. From a JH/MS youth worker, it kills me to see people write them off because of a perception of their capabilities or behavior.

    #1 – HIGH FIVE – and if you can learn names, and say “hello (name)”, it reminds them that they are important enough to be remembered, amazed at how much this helps them trust you and build relationship with you in a very short amount of time.

    #2 – POSTCARDS – if you access to the addresses, make sure you share with other leaders that will do this as well, u don’t know who they will connect to

    #3 – FUNNY VIDEO – that annoying orange will haunt your dreams, but yes

    #4 – GREAT LEADERS – And don’t forget to resource them (training them before they need it, resources for them, resources to give to students, feedback, opportunities for growth, and constant communication)

    #6 – WHITEBOARD – And sometimes you need to admit part of that failure to students, and get their feedback, teaches them that failure isn’t fatal.

    #7 – WE LIKE YOU – There are times we want to kill you, but we like you, because that ADD that has you bouncing off the walls during the message also makes you one of the most genuine and fun people to be around during fellowship, and one of the most enthusiastic game contestants ever. I also particularly like to get to know the kids that aren’t so outgoing, the choices they make and the activities they do are typically outside the norm (e.g. found out last night that 1 of our 7th grade guys does fencing [swords, not chain link], that’s so cool). Sometimes I really get tired about talking about football, basketball, Pretty Little Liars, and One Direction, you know?

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