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The Big 3

 —  April 15, 2013 — 2 Comments


I was recently asked what I believed to be the three most important aspects of a healthy junior high ministry. I hesitated because I don’t think I’ve ever been asked to narrow junior high ministry down to the THREE most important pieces. For me, passion for Jesus and a desire to point junior highers toward a relationship with Him is assumed in ministry to junior highers so that wasn’t included in my answer. Here is what I came up with, in order of importance:

3) Patience. Nothing good happens over night. It takes time to build a “junior high ministry culutre” in most churches. It takes time to develop a team of dedicated volunteers. It takes time to figure out how junior high ministry differs from high school ministry, etc.

2) Caring Adults Who LIKE Junior Highers. Every christian loves junior high kids…they have to because it’s part of the christian code to love each other. But most adults don’t LIKE junior highers. Adults who are comfortable and actually enjoy being around quirky, insecure, high-energy, question-filled, obnoxious junior highers are hard to find but vital to a healthy junior high ministry.

1) A Church Dedicated To The Cause. Is the church excited about young teen ministry? Is it willing to resource the ministry by providing a meeting space, tossing a few dollars its direction, helping you recruit qualified leaders (even if those leaders decide to abandon their current place of volunteerism)? Is the church going to rally behind your efforts to minister to junior high parents and to nudge the entire congregation towards recognizing that young teens desperately need to be valued and included in the overall life of the church….allowed to use their gifts, be themselves and be embraced by the entire church family instead of being relegated to the “junior high area”?

That’s my BIG 3: An excited church, caring adults and patience. What would your BIG 3 Include?

Kurt Johnston

Kurt Johnston


Kurt Johnston leads the student ministries team at Saddleback Church in Southern California. His ministry of choice, however, is junior high, where he spends approximately 83.4% of his time.

2 responses to The Big 3

  1. 1. Sustainability–this is very close to “patience.” Is what we are doing sustainable for the long-haul? Are we building a healthy ministry? Is the way we are doing ministry depleting our resources and leading us to burnout? Keeping the big picture in view is essential.

    2. Sanctification–Our youth ministry needs to help people “grow up in Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13). One question I ask: “Is the way I am doing ministry allowing me to grow closer to Jesus?” If not, then I need to reevaluate what I’m doing. If I’m not growing, how can I expect my volunteers and students to grow?

    3. Developing a Team of Youth Workers–Creating a group of adults who are not merely chaperones, but are caring and supportive youth workers. Young people need adults who will invest in their lives.

  2. I love that you guys highlighted these values (both Kurt and Brandon). We recently had a sporting even that cut our numbers right in half for a night; right after a week that went awesome. I became too short sighted and stupidly let myself get discouraged right in front of my team of volunteers.
    Short sighted = Highs and lows, discouragement, burn out, and program collaps.
    Long-term = momentum, encouragement, sustainability, and a fruit bering ministry for years to come.
    It is helpful to refocus on a sustainable and patient long term plan. A plan to develop and cultivate a middle school ministry with a great culture, the right staff, and adequately/smartly resourced ministry. I have a tendency to roll with the highs and lows too much, and this plum line of a long-term vision will help me lead the team into a more stable and encouraged place. Thanks for the reminder guys!

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