involving middle schoolers in teaching (The Ghost of Amos)

one of my fondest memories of teaching middle schoolers was the annual “film festival” we ran with our small groups at one of my churches. each small group would have a month to make a film, based on list of suggested bible stories. they could tell the story faithfully, modernize it, or pull out some point and base the film around that. then, we’d have an awards night where we’d screen them all and give out massive quantities of awards.

so often, we think middle schoolers are only capable of “receiving” when it comes to teaching. but the learning goes up exponentially when they’re actually involved.

take this example:

our middle school ministry at my church is doing on a series on old testament prophets during our sunday morning teaching time. each of the small groups was invited (though it was optional) to take a week and do with it whatever they wanted. my small group of 6th grade guys took a week; but it’s lucky i have an awesome co-leader who steered that boat, since i was out of town.

i’m more familiar with what the 8th grade guys group did, because my son max is in that group. max’s group taught on Amos. and i can tell you this: as a result, max knows more, and will remember more, about amos than he does about any other old testament prophet.

the guys studied the book together, pulled out themes, narrowed it to one (living what you believe), and parsed out various teaching bits. max taught for about 5 minutes in the “so what?” section of the lesson, sharing a personal story, and pointing out the main theme, as well as providing some suggestions for how others might apply it. he came to me the day before he taught, asking if he could practice in front of me and get my suggestions. i only had one minor suggestion, and he incorporated it really well.

not all the guys were up front. but they were all involved in front of or behind the camera in a video they made (thanks to the expert leadership of their small group leader, ian robertson, who used to be the video guy at YS, and is still a professional videographer, and also the husband of our middle school pastor). in the video — The Ghost of Amos — max plays amos. yup. that’s my boy.

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