Jr. High Ministry: Chart Toppers
group magazine: January-February, 2006
by Kurt Johnston
It’s time for my annual list of “favorite things” in the world of junior high ministry. This tradition dates all the way back to last January when I created my first list. Yours would certainly look different from mine, but the following is my second annual list of favorite junior high ministry things.
Book: Primal Teen by Barbara Strauch—This book takes a look at the development of the teenage brain. It’s full of brand-new research packaged in an easy-to-read format that’s a must-read for all of us who work with young teenagers.
Teaching Series: Becoming Who I Already Am—In this three-week series we took a look at some of the word pictures Scripture uses to describe how God sees us. The three we focused on were becoming clay, becoming salt, and becoming a sheep. Why does God see us this way, and how can understanding these word pictures help me grow in my faith?
Sneak Peek Into Youth Culture: www.MySpace.com—While this site isn’t designed for junior highers (you’re supposed to be 16 to become a member), MySpace.com is a favorite Internet hangout for young teenagers. Be forewarned: You won’t like much of what you see, but it’s a great place to take a glance at current youth culture.
Cheap and Easy Event: Dodge Ball Tournament—Get a bunch of junior highers in a room, and have at it! We promoted the tournament through our small groups, and each group competed as a team. We charged $2 per student to cover the cost of pizza, soft drinks, and a silly prize for the winning team. Our first tournament was such a success that we’ve added two more to our calendar year. For a fun twist, hold a “goofiest dodge ball outfit” contest.
TV Show That Students Probably Don’t Watch: The Office—A smart satire set in the sales office of a paper supply
company, this documentary spoof is full of awkward moments that serve up tons of leadership and team-building lessons. Watch it through your “I’m a leader of people” lens.
Volunteer Encouragement Idea: Stolen Car—Theft probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about encouraging a volunteer, but trust me on this one! Get an extra set of car keys from a parent or spouse. While the volunteer is at work, steal his or her car, and get it professionally washed and vacuumed. Return it with a little note of thanks and candy on the seat.
Editor’s note: For more great ideas to encourage volunteers, check out Go Team!: 101 Ideas to Energize Youth Ministry Volunteers (Group Publishing, Inc.), co-authored by Kurt.
Small Group Idea: Snack Schedule—Instead of providing the snacks each week yourself, create a snack schedule and hand it out to students on a quarterly basis. I’ve learned that parents and students look forward to their night to provide snacks for the group. This serves to lighten the load on you as the leader, as well as giving ownership to your students. Besides, if you’re like me, your idea of providing snacks is a bag of chips and a six-pack of Mountain Dew...every single week! The rotation provides for a much higher quality snacking experience.
1st Time Visitor Gift: Can of corn...or Any Other Random Food Item—Instead of beating yourself up trying to come up with creative, memorable, spiritual gifts for your guests…just give ’em a can of corn! I don’t know why it works; it just does.
Kurt Johnston is the junior high minister at Saddleback Church in California, and he’s also the co-author of the book Controlled Chaos: Making Sense of Junior High Ministry (Standard).