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A day off of school for some of us who live in Florida, means a day at the beach. There are many beaches to choose from here in Florida, and even in November it was perfect beach weather. Over the years I have experienced many trips to the beach with my family and with youth groups and I have noticed that they usually fall into two categories. First, there is the ‘oh, look the beach, let’s stop’. This is the trip that is spontaneous and has people rolling up their pant legs to wade into the surf. Most of the time on these trips you hear things like, “Oh, I just want to get my feet wet!” or “We won’t get too wet!”  These trips generally end with one or more of the people in the group “accidently” getting wet from head to toe and totally uncomfortable and complaining about being wet/cold the rest of the way home. Next, would be the “Ok, we are going to the beach on Saturday.” trip. Most of the time this beach day begins with multiple trips back and forth to the car to retrieve all of the items that have been packed for the day. Towels, coolers, shovels, buckets, floats, change of clothes, chairs, blankets, you get the idea. While both beach day scenarios are fun, the second more prepared day usually ends with everyone changing in to their dry clothes and the ride home is full of content youth and/or children who are napping to get some rest from the great day they had at the beach.

What’s the point? You may not even like the beach (is that even a thing?) but still we can learn a couple of things from a day at the beach.

Junior High Ministry is a lot like that spontaneous day at the beach. Too many times we fall into this first category when we are working with Jr. High Ministry. We stop along the way to do whatever looks fun or grabs our attention. We allow our ability to ‘wing it’ to carry us from week to week. This may work for a while but eventually we end up cold and wet and complaining on the way home. This type of ministry will also leave our youth shallow and always seeking the next adventure instead of seeking Jesus.  While some spontaneous ministry can be meaningful, it should not be our only form of ministry.

Packing and unpacking for a day at the beach can be exhausting, but when we are prepared the trip to the beach is a great experience for everyone. Preparing for Jr. High Ministry can also be exhausting, but if we want to honor the calling we have been given, it requires preparation.  We should be seeking direction from God for what we teach and how we spend time with our youth. Put in the time. Read. Read the Bible, don’t search for your next lesson but read the words that God meant for us to read. God’s Spirit can lead us so much further, and guide us to lead the youth into a deeper relationship with Him, when we are prepared.

– Becky Gilbert


Discussion Questions:

  1. What keeps you from being prepared for ministry?
  2. What are some practices that other ministry partners use that could help you?
  3. How do you schedule your time in order to be more prepared?


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