Junior High Ministry 101: The Importance Of 'The Feel'

A couple of years ago Chap Clark made the following comment at a gathering of middle school youth workers:

"In ministry to young teens, the feel of the ministry is more important than the content."

That comment launched us into a discussion around the idea that creating a ministry that feels safe, accepting, comforting, etc. is actually more important than the content you teach because of the crazy place young teens are at developmentally.

I think I agree with Chap. That isn't to say biblical instruction, learning doctrine etc. don't play a part in junior high ministry; they do. It is to say, however, that how a ministry feels to a young teen is equally important (so maybe I don't agree that it's 'more important', but that it is equally important). Creating positive memories, building relationships, creating a safe place to ask questions and share doubts, providing lots of experiential learning, surrounding students with caring adults etc. are crucial pieces of an effective junior high ministry.

If we can create an atmosphere in our ministry that is comfortable to junior highers during the 2-3 toughest years of their lives, we'll probably keep them around for years to come which will provide plenty of time for deeper content.


Mike Conner said...

I don't think feel is more important than content. But I do believe both are extremely important.

The right enviroment opens the door for the content. A great and Biblical approach to ministry. Just my two cents worth. Certainly worthwhile to discuss/think about.

Mike Becher said...

I think that in saying it's "more important" I see that it's probably EASIER to miss in the mix of everything else and hence would lose it's effectiveness in the busyness of ministry. Therefore it's MORE IMPORTANT to intentionally pursue since we'll always have content (how else could you be a ministry... lol).

Content will always drive our discussions, classes, teachings, messages, small groups, etc. But the "feel" will help them accept those things from, not only a credible source (us as people they trust) but a credible environment (one that intentionally aims to serve them).

Kurt Johnston said...

I like the way you put that, Mike, and agree.

Anonymous said...

it's the content that brings the comfort... not the "feel"

but thats just me =)