Junior High Ministry 101: Faith Development

As they enter adolescence, young teens go through a ton of developmental changes: Physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual. For those who minister to this age group, the spiritual development often proves to be the most challenging and sometimes frustrating when, in reality, it should be one of the most exciting because it provides fodder for wonderful discussions.

Kids who have grown up in church and developed certain assumptions suddenly begin to ask questions about their faith. While this sometimes feels threatening to adults (especially youth workers and parents), the reality is that without asking some of these questions and wrestling to own their faith, most junior highers won't develop a mature trust in Christ that lasts. The questioning is a REALLY good thing.

On my 13-year-old daughter's blog, she posts a question about faith....it's one of the first times I've seen her ask this type of question, and it's super exciting!

Here's what she posted (re-printed with her permission, of course!):

"Tonight I met a girl who was very nice and super great, but something was different about her. I thought she was a Christian, but how can I know for sure? I was comparing our lives (in my head), and realized that mine was totally different, and that mine mainly revolves around the church, and I am not so sure if hers does. I know that it isn't a bad thing to be super involved in church, but is there a point when it is too much? And at that point, where you begin to schedule things around your "church plans". I don't know what got me thinking, but I also don't know what to think. All I know is that there are so many people like this girl out there, and it's crazy to think that some of them don't even go to church, or have maybe even never heard of it."

In that short post are several issues that Kayla simply wouldn't have wondered about a year ago. Part of her intellectual and social development is the sudden ability to observe lifestyles of other people, compare them with her own and question how this relates to being a Christian.

Junior high students are asking questions. They may not post these questions on a blog, or even come directly to you for answers, but questions like my daughter's are on the minds of most of the students you minister to...

And that's a REALLY good thing!

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