SERVING IN MIDDLE SCHOOL
One thing I love about the Fall here at Oakwood is that our Church finds ways to Intentionally Engage our community in amazing ways.
Think about it, Fall Festival transforms our parking lot into a safe place for our community to enjoy fun entertainment, LOTS OF CANDY, and sense the love of Jesus through our church as we SERVE OTHERS. Right after that, OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD gets us into gear to serve someone in another country as a family by filling up one little shoebox. Heart of Hope, December 6, leads us to pack a grocery bag or two, invite families in our community to dinner and give their children the ability to have a Christmas when they may be able to afford it.
All these events give you and your Middle School Student an opportunity to serve, and it makes a BIG DIFFERENCE!
Brooklyn Lyndsey puts it this way in her Serving Through the Phases E-Single:
“BECAUSE WHEN YOU GIVE A MIDDLE SCHOOLER THE OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE, YOU ARE HELPING
THEM TO ANSWER THE MOST TERRIFYING QUESTIONS THEY ARE FACING.”
Here are some thoughts about serving in the Middle School Phase…
AFFIRM THEIR GIFTS WHILE HELPING THEM TO SEE THE WORLD
Service can be a significant tool in the life of a middle schooler—a
powerful tool that too often gets overlooked. Because when you
give a middle schooler the opportunity to serve, you’re helping
them to answer the most terrifying questions they’re facing. And
those questions are:
- Where do I fit in? (Where we all fit in—helping others and
showing God’s love.)
- What can I offer? (You can offer a warm meal, a friendship, a
- Why do I matter? (Because you’re making a difference in the
world and you show off God’s heart like no one else does.)
Service forces a middle schooler to look through a window instead
of a mirror. It gives them a break from the all-consuming woes of
their own life (and to a middle schooler, they are all-consuming!) to
focus on someone else—on a world much bigger than the halls of
their middle school.
I can’t say I feel old enough, but it’s true: we have a child in middle school.
A new school. A new chapter. A whole new world.
And as much as we sometimes feel like a deer in the headlights, thankfully, we’re not on our own during this transition to middle school. We have experts—parents, teachers, friends—around us who are already giving us insight into the middle school mind. They are people who’ve been there, know what we’re going through, and can help us along the way. Here’s some of what we’ve been learning.
The Middle School Changes
There are four major areas where middle school kids are changing.
In general boys and girls develop at different rates. Most of the girls seem like giants compared to many of the boys who still look like they could be in fourth grade. This will change over the course of middle school. Kids will grow up. Yet as they grow, the body doesn’t grow at a standard ratio. The upper body may grow faster than their legs, or their feet might grow faster than the rest of their body, or kids might even start looking like bobble-heads again. They don’t call these the “Awkward Years” for nothing.
Our middle schoolers are more “worldly” than any previous middle school generation. They have access to the world at an unprecedented level, finding all sorts of information within seconds from a device that sits in the palm of their hands. Our kids are digital natives and know how to discover anything they want whenever they want. Yet, developmentally, so much of what they find is beyond what they can understand. They are still quite shallow in their thinking and act more like children than adults.
Have you ever wanted to ask your kids, “Who are you and what did you do with our son?” Sometimes it seems like our kids are three different people trapped in the same body. Sometimes they can help this, but most times they can’t. They are hormonal, moody, and often irritable at a moment’s notice. On top of the hormones, they have a fragile self-concept. Because it’s still all about them, they take everything personally, while wondering if they’re good enough.
Middle schoolers are experiencing a growing dependence on peers to find self-worth. They want to make friends and hang out with them without parents around. They will start to detach from family and begin to develop their independence.
Yet because these kids are unsure of who they are and who they really want hang around with, their friend groups will change. Kids who were best friends in elementary school might become casual acquaintances. Don’t be alarmed if your kids shuffle through different friend groups throughout the year. It’s just part of the process of growing up.
Throughout all of those changes, it’s important to remember this: Parents are still the most important people in a child life.
We can help our kids through this process.
We were promised won’t be easy. So, stay tuned next week for some practical tips to help you, as parents, survive the middle school years.
Do you have a kid starting out middle school? What changes have you noticed already?
Dan Scott works at Orange in New Product Development and is the Art Director and Large Group Director for 252 Basics. Dan and his wife Jenna have four amazing kids: Liam, Ellison, Addison, and Taye. You can read more from Dan on his blog, DanScottBlog.com, or on Twitter, @DanScott77.
Willie Robertson quotes a passage from Matthew 10… “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33
+ How do you react to the above passage from Matthew 10?
Friendships and taking a stand:
+ Talk about a time when you were persuaded by a friend to a.) do something you
really didn’t want to do or b.) abandon something important to you. Never
underestimate the power of your story and how it speaks into your teenager’s life.
+ If you’re a Christ-follower, describe for your teenager the most diffi cult part of that
journey for you. Ask him or her to share the same.
+ How can I encourage you in your friendships?
+ How can I support you as you stand for Jesus?
+What do each of these passages say to YOU about taking a stand?
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
+ Talk about a time you had to take an unpopular stand, perhaps one you took
entirely by yourself. It doesn’t necessarily have to be one of faith—but make sure
it’s not one related to disciplining or arguing with your student!
+ “Is there ever a time when you felt compelled to go along with the group
even though you wanted to take an opposite view?” (Remember, this is an effort
to keep communication lines open and fl owing, so be mindful not to judge or
correct your teenager’s actions during this conversation. One way you can do
this is by relaying a story of your own of a similar nature. If your teen conveys
something that requires your parental focus, engage in that at another time.)
+ “Is there someone you know—and respect—who has taken an unpopular
stand despite pressure to do otherwise? Tell me
Be it, Say it, Do it:
+ Tell a story from your life about when a friend ignored you in public and how
that felt. (If you don’t have a story like that, ask your teenager if he or she can
+ When is it easy or difficult to acknowledge God in public? (Share some of your
+ Who have you seen take a stand for God in public? How did it go for them?
What impact did that have on you?
+ Are there ways to “acknowledge God” without using words? If so, explain.
As always, thank you for allowing us to make a small investment in the spiritual life
of your family. It’s an honor to come alongside you as you continue to show your
kids the walk of a Christ-follower.