One of the best things we can do for junior highers is to normalize their experiences. One of the worst things we can do for junior highers is to generalize them….to assume they are all basically the same.
When we normalize in a healthy way, junior highers begin to realize stuff like:
- “I’m not the only one who has some conflict at home.”
- “I’m not the only one who sometimes doesn’t feel like I fit in.”
- “Other people have questions about God, too!”
But if we aren’t careful we can generalize students in ways that hurt our effectiveness:
- When you say things from stage like, “I know how much you ALL love video games.” or “I love how outgoing you ALL are!” Good intentions; but chances are not everybody in your youth group fits such broad categories.
- When you strategize or plan your ministry assuming every junior higher needs the same things.
- When you decide that no junior highers like games. Or that ALL junior highers like games.
- When you “force” a student to participate in something that they don’t want to because you know it’s what junior highers need.
Junior high ministry can be like painting a mural: You need to use both a broad and a fine brush…figuring out when to use each tool effectively is a skill we all need to master!