If you’re meeting a middle-schooler for the first time, the standard questions (name? grade? school?) are the obvious starting point. But since many 11- to 13-year olds haven’t yet learned how to carry a conversation, it’s up to you to keep things going.
One of the easiest ways to do that is by saying, “Tell me about your xxx” where xxx is the kid’s t-shirt (assuming it has a graphic or phrase on it – please don’t ask them to tell you about their plain old navy blue tee), cap, earrings, cast, instrument case, nail-polish (ask the color, ladies – it matters to them; guys, don’t ask about this), shoes, or anything else that’s easily seen and identified.
Once you’ve met a kid and broken the ice, here are 3 different question categories to keep things rolling:
1. Would you rather questions.
You can find hundreds of these lists online – most of which are entirely out-of-bounds for any ministry setting. Brainstorm a list with your leadership team. Here are few to get you started:
- Would you rather have a dragon or be a dragon?
- Would you rather eat frog legs or drink broccoli juice?
- Would you rather wear a snowsuit in the desert or a bathing suit in Antartica?
- Would you rather give up your phone for a day or pizza for a year?
- Would you rather always wear a blindfold or a nose plug?
- Would you rather have a kangaroo or a koala for your pet?
- Would you rather be able to only whisper or only shout?
- Would you rather be a cat or a dog?
- Would you rather visit the deep sea or deep space?
- Would you rather have an elephant trunk or a giraffe neck?
- Would you rather be a Disney princess/hero or a Disney villain for a day?
- Would you rather give up your phone for a year or wait until you’re 18 to drive?
- Would you rather eat an entire box of Lucky Charms or an entire bag of Doritos?
- Would you rather eat breakfast food for dinner or dinner food for breakfast?
Follow up with, “Really? Why?” to keep the conversation going.
2. What’s your favorite questions. Easy Peasey:
- favorite movie
- favorite snack
- favorite song
- favorite book (“I’m allergic to books” doesn’t count)
- favorite tv show
- favorite hobby
- favorite cartoon character
- favorite food
- favorite ice-cream flavor
- favorite pizza topping
3. If you could questions. Here are a few to jumpstart your own list:
- If you could take a vacation anywhere, where would you go?
- If you could skip school and do anything you wanted for a day, what would it be?
- If you could have any meal you wanted, what would it be?
- If you could go to any concert, what would it be?
- If you could be on a tv show, what would it be and what character would you be?
- If you could call any celebrity right now, who would you call and what would you say?
- If you could ask (insert famous name here) any question, what would it be?
- If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be?
- If you could jump 10 years into the future, where would you live and what would you be doing?
- If you could write a book, what would it be about?
- If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
- If you could have been the inventor of anything that already exists, what would it be?
- If you could invent something brand new, what would it do?
It’s up to you to start and maintain a conversation with a middle schooler. But it’s not up to you to carry the conversation as a monopoly. Be sure you give them space to respond and ask their own questions in return. Not only will you be doing great ministry; you’ll also be teaching and modeling an important life skill.