we re-started my middle school guys small group this past wednesday night. i started with these six guys (zach, bryan, matt, shane, brandon and aaron) two years ago when they were just beginning 6th grade. now they’re big (in varying degrees), mature (also in varying degrees, given the moment) 8th grade guys.
the first year of meeting every wednesday evening was fun, and contained the occasional spiritually insightful moment. but it was primarily a year of farts and giggles, lifting the relational trusswork for deeper stuff to come.
last year showed more insight, more engagement, and lots and lots of developmental changes. awkwardness and questions, doubts and simplistic ideas. snack time still ruled.
it is completely possible that my investment (as well as the investment of my now-20 year-old co-leader, who was only 18 when we began two years ago) has set me up for over-expectation this year. that would be ok, ’cause i still love these guys, and love hanging with them.
these last two years, we’ve jumped off of highly-modified wild truth bible lessons as our discussion starters. this year we’re trying something new, based on the positive experiences i’ve heard from a few other middle school small group leaders around the country. we’re using one of the books in the middle school survival series (“my friends“, to be exact) as a launch-point. i gave them each a copy to take home — reading optional. but i’m keeping 8 copies at my house (i can’t expect them to remember to bring them). each week we’ll read a chapter — the chapters are about a page and a half — and talk about it. hope to talk about 3-ish chapters per week. we’ll see. it could suck and we’d change directions. we’ll still have monthly swim night, and weekly snack.
i’m a middle school guy, through and through. but it’s interesting, these guys (and their parents) are already talking about how little time we have left together (a full school year), and how much they want me to move up with them to the high school group. i don’t expect to do that: i don’t like high schoolers. :)