One of the simplest and yet most vital things that we can do in Middle School Ministry is to make our ministry a friendly one. Our ministry will succeed and win new students for Christ if we have a welcoming, inviting and friendly culture, because it makes church a place where students feel known and loved.
A quote from my senior pastor Dr. David Jeremiah:
“God designed the church to be the place where people can be accepted for who they really are and be encouraged to become the people they were meant to be.”
Here are some simple principles that you can teach to everyone on your team, and to your students as well. I try to emphasize this when we are getting ready to transition a new class into our group. I want everyone to know that this is what we are about, and this is how we plan on reaching and connecting students, and their families, to our church and to Christ.
- Saying hello – It sounds so simple, but what if your whole ministry was in the habit of saying hi to everyone? People might say a ministry is too friendly, but probably not. High fives and fist bumps say hello and let people know that you think they are awesome. New families will remember the feeling of being welcomed with a smile!
- Learn names – Depending on the size of your group, this can be hard. For me, it’s difficult, but it doesn’t stop me from trying. Students light up when you remember their name. Once you learn their names, they feel like you really know them. And it’s true, it’s the start of getting to know them.
- Get to know people – You don’t have to be great at asking questions, but asking questions is how you get to know people. Train your team and students to ask questions about life, about school, and about God.
- Look to include people – Train your team and your students to include others. Encourage them to open up their circles so anyone can feel included. Look to include as many people as possible in anything you do. Everyone wins.
- Be friendly (don’t be a jerk) – Sounds simple enough, we all have our moments. Try to smile more, say hi more, fist bump more. A great middle school ministry is a friendly middle school ministry.
There you go, that’s the secret sauce for a successful middle school ministry. That and lots of fun games and candy. A good middle school ministry should be a place where students can feel accepted and encouraged. Ultimately, so they can know Christ!
And you can never go wrong with a culture of friendliness.
1 Thessalonians 5:11“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
Colossians 3:12“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
– Scott Pittman
- Who is someone in your life that made you feel included, wanted or encouraged? What did they do to make you feel that way?
- What are some things you would add to this list?
- What are you doing in your ministry that has help created a culture of friendliness?