Proud to be in Junior High Ministry

By Doug Franklin June 26, 2020

There are few church positions that are as under-appreciated as junior high youth workers and their dedicated teams of adult volunteers.

It’s not uncommon for church elders or even parents to suspect that the junior high ministry team just plays games all the time. And sometimes even among youth workers, junior high ministry can be seen as a stepping stone rather than real ministry.

These statements couldn’t be farther from the truth. There’s so much more than babysitting happening in each of our junior high ministries.

Not only is junior high ministry arguably the most important ministry at your church, it’s my belief that junior high youth workers and volunteers have the most fun and the greatest impact of any church ministry.

Yes, serving in junior high ministry comes with a high cost, but it also has high reward. We may not be a huge group, but I like to think of us as special servants purposefully designed to take on a very difficult mission.

Here are just a few reasons why we and a couple of our fellow junior high youth workers are proud to serve in junior high ministries.

We serve junior highers at a crucial stage in their lives

From Florida Junior High Pastor, Brian Pete:

I truly appreciate the opportunity to reach students at such a critical stage in their lives. Not only are our junior high students ready to show up, many of them are eager to grow and primed to be developed. And because they’re curious, we’ve got a golden opportunity to train them in truth before they’re completely exposed to so many of the world’s lies.

Here is just a piece of what I’ve noticed about junior highers:

  • They have a growing level of understanding. At this age, junior highers are just starting to dig into the meat of scripture. As they exit elementary school, they have minds to absorb so much about our Savior.
  • They’re willing to do something. Unlike their high school friends and siblings, when you need help, you can count on junior high students to volunteer themselves (or a friend). Whether it is a game, service project, or growing spiritually, they are the first to raise their hands. (If not, usually you can bribe them with a piece of candy.)
  • They’re facing an identity crossroads. Some of the biggest questions I see students in junior high wrestling with is who they are and where they fit in. What an amazing opportunity we have to teach them their identity in Christ.
  • They’re still hanging on to a level of innocence. While there are different levels of exposures, many of our junior high kids still have a lot to learn about life and God. It’s a great chance to catch them before they get caught too deep in sin’s tangles.

we’re the starting line for relational ministry

From Texas Junior High Youth Worker, Brandon Best:

It’s no secret that we work with an age group that is a mixture of hormone engulfing, boy-crazy, unsympathetic, highly energetic, and (let’s be honest) sometimes smelly kids. But these same students that seem to be embracing all the technology and social media platforms that come their way also tend to have the 101 best questions about Jesus and life.

In this phase of life, students are experiencing a lot of fundamental changes. During this phase, most junior highers move from appreciating the family leadership in the home to repelling it. As they desire to grow and think like individuals, their need to be surrounded by intentional mentors and a strong Christian community only increases. Junior high ministry is truly where relational ministry starts.

It’s the relational ministry strategy that starts here that can be a major anchor to a student dealing with so much personal change and looking for so much belonging. This “herd” could be the formative community where seeds are planted that will bear fruit later on. I find that it’s one of my greatest joys to introduce junior high families to relational, student ministry that will impact them for eternity. 

junior high ministry is where all the action is

From former Junior High Youth Worker, Doug Franklin:

Junior High Ministry is where the action is; in fact, supernatural energy is required to love on junior highers. Whether it’s an intense game of dodgeball, a seemingly never-ending stretch of Disney sing alongs, or an especially interactive small group Bible study and discussion, junior highers keep us active. They force us to get creative and break out all the stops to help them learn and engage.

Not only that, but junior high ministry is where students may be the most active in making decisions about following Jesus. Most people (roughly 80%) who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior made that decision before or by the age of 14. 

Now the age of adolescences has dropped and students are making life decisions at a much younger age. Those of us that serve in junior high ministry get to help students shape their world view and how they see Jesus. These two views will most likely determine the trajectory of a student’s life.

Whether you’re a junior high youth worker or a junior high ministry volunteer, we want to say “thank you!” Thanks for digging into the lives of junior highers during such a challenging life stage. Thanks for standing faithfully at the starting line of relational ministry, and thanks for jumping into the heart of where all the action is and encouraging students to follow Jesus.

Here’s to the few, the proud, and the crazy!

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More