I’ll admit it.
I don’t split up my students into middle school and high school groups. For me, it’s strictly a structural issue. I serve in a small church and dividing our students isn’t practical in our setting.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are a lot of positives for keeping your group together as one unit. Here are a few:
1. Mentoring—It’s truly an amazing thing to watch a junior and senior mentor a young seventh-grader in the youth group. This happens in teaching sessions, special events, and especially during extended trips. During those trips, I often room my seventh-graders with an upperclassman and specifically instruct my older student to mentor them.
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I want the older students to teach our younger ones what it means to be a member of our youth group, a leader among their gender, and a follower of Christ.
2. Leadership—Have you ever seen an eighth-grader lead seniors? I have and it’s a sight to behold. One season of our ministry, it became obvious that our upperclassmen were not strong leaders, yet we had tons of potential among our middle-schoolers. I challenged two particular eighth-graders to step up and lead. They answered way beyond my expectations. They taught our upperclassmen what it meant to lead despite age, and led our youth group for five years before passing the baton to other, younger students.