Here are 10 more tips adapted from Kurt Johnston’s book 99 Thoughts about Junior High Ministry. You can read the first ten here.
Three keys to ministering to parents: earn their trust, earn their trust, earn their trust! Katie Edwards, a middle school pastor, says this: “If parents are for you, who can be against you?” [Hear more from Katie here.] In WyldLife, our relationships with parents are essential. We must always be aware of how parents feel about another adult building a relationship with their 12- or 13-year old son or daughter. Parents should be our first line of contact work.
If you wouldn’t say it, play it, or show it with parents in the room, then don’t say it, play it, or show it, period. Always ask yourself: “Would I want someone else showing or saying this to my 12-year old kid?” If you don’t have a 12-year old kid, ask a parent of one to be your personal better.
Let parents know what’s happening. Parents are your first, second, and third line of communication in WyldLife.
Keep a picture handy from your MS/JH days. If you remember what it was like for you, you’ll be a better leader to your WyldLife kids. [Here’s an exercise that will help you and your leaders with this.]
Stick around for the long haul. Ministry foundations and fruit take years – not months – to build. Good things will happen right away, but great things take longer. Too many WyldLife leaders move on before things are firmly established. The longer you stay and the deeper you sink your roots into a ministry and a community, the more credibility you and the ministry will have.
Learn from the ministry down the street, across town, and across the country. Talk to other WyldLife leaders for sure. But also talk to middle school and junior high pastors in your town. We all have things to share with other. We can be a great source of encouragement and support. It is more important than we’ll ever realize to build strong collaborative ministry relationships with everyone we can.
Make yourself available to public school teachers and administrators. Introduce yourself. Tell them who you are and what you do. Offer to partner with them in whatever ways they need. This isn’t primarily about you getting something out of the relationship. It’s about you sincerely serving them. Volunteer in the lunch room. Volunteer to help set up and monitor track meets. Volunteer to chaperone school dances. Volunteer to sponsor an after-school club. Volunteer to do whatever they need help with.
Memorize a handful of easy games and mixers to use when something goes wrong – the sound system stops working, the bus breaks down, the elaborate skit falls apart. (Actually, just skip elaborate skits in WyldLife – not because middle schoolers aren’t worth it, but because they usually aren’t impressed and don’t care. Have fun with them instead of worrying about being funny in front of them.] Middle school ministry success requires spontaneity. Have a back-pocket of just-in-case filler activities.
Leave places/things better than you found them. This includes homes, fast-food restaurants, the school lunchroom, your club location, chauffeurs’ cars, busses, and everything else.
Embarrass yourself now and then. Never embarrass a kid, and don’t play the class clown, the goofball, or make a habit of embarrassing yourself. But when embarrassing things happen (and they will if you’re a WyldLife leader), make the most of those moments. Let kids laugh with you at you.
Get Kurt’s book here.