Tag Archives: middle school small groups

choice quotes from my new 6th grade guys small group

two weeks ago, i started over, once again.

what i mean is: i began as the small group leader for a new grip of 6th grade guys. i see this as a three year commitment, as i want to stick with them through middle school. that first night was a kick-off party for all the small groups. and i’ll admit, about 10 minutes into an attempt to name our group (you can see the result in the photo – yes, they came with the highly appropriate name “atomic squirrel”), i was wondering to myself,

– what have i gotten myself into?
– can i do this again?
– am i too old for this?
– can anything good come of this?
– at what point am i just going to snap?

but we had a good, exceedingly short chat over the ‘small group convenant’ our middle school pastor handed out, and i got my feet under me again.

this past wednesday, our group of 9 guys and 2 leaders (my co-leader is a veteran youth pastor in san diego for seminary, and we have 50 years of youth ministry experience between the two of us!), met at my house. we actually meet in my little back house, which is my office. and again, it took me a few minutes to get my bearings (oh my gosh, they are atomic squirrels!). but it was good — really good. they’re a fantastic group of guys. some are drop-dead hilarious; others have boundless energy; a few are a little quirky, in an endearing 6th grade way. but i can tell, i’m gonna love walking with these guys.

all that aside, i made a few notes to myself of some choice quotes from our sharing time:

“I want my nickname to be wasabi” (btw, i wasn’t asking them about nicknames)


guy one: …and i have a pet snake.
guy two: where did you get it?
guy one: oh… at that one place… um…
guy two: trader joe’s?


“my middle name is reese, because my grandma loves the movie the terminator, so i’m named after kyle reese. my mom didn’t like the name kyle.”


“i have a brother who has four legs and is furry. his names is hobbs.”


(context: i asked them to share a dream job, and an experience they would love to have in life. this guy shared that he would like to be a ‘chest doctor’. resisting the impulse to make a joke, i asked if he meant a heart doctor, which he affirmed. then…)
“two experiences i want to have: i want to shoot an elephant, and i want to hold a beating human heart in my hands.”


and the fleeting moment that reminded me why i do this:
“what job would i love to have? well, i’m gonna have to wait to see what god has in store for me.”


come hang out and share middle school ministry stories with me, at the middle school ministry campference. it’s only a few weeks away!

separating genders in middle school ministry

my latest middle school ministry column for youthworker journal is online, here. i talk about the value of (sometimes) separating guys and girls.

here’s a tease (you’ll have to click through to the youthworker site to read the whole thing):

It’s difficult to find a middle schooler who doesn’t believe he or she is the center of the universe—a pre-Copernican ego-centered world.

For example, let’s say you rarely will experience a young teen sharing something in a group when he or she is not first-and-foremost thinking of how others perceive him or her. He or she might be horribly misguided in that perception (they often are); but it’s still the lenses through which they view themselves. This is a good shift, by the way, as it reveals their new ability to see themselves in third-person (a psychological skill that comes with abstract thinking).

So such self-obsession is normal, and it’s even present when there aren’t distractions; but one of the biggest distractions for a young teen who’s opening his or her mouth to share a thought, prayer, idea or question, are those pesky other-gender kids: “What are they thinking about me as I’m saying this!??!”

So I like to separate the genders occasionally. Specifically, I think it’s wise to have single-gender small groups.

need input on 2 youth worker questions

first, kara powell, of fuller youth institute, is looking for “youth workers and/or youth ministries who are doing a good job helping kids think theologically and/or critically about games and exploring how games are shaping kids and/or kids’ faith.” she’s writing a chapter for a book and wants to interview some youth workers along these lines. if you fall into this category, and would like to interact with kara about it, please shoot me an email, and i’ll connect you with kara.

second, for the middle school ministry book that scott rubin and i are finishing up right now, there’s a chapter on middle school small groups. in that chapter, there’s an extended sidebar of 1-2 sentence responses from middle school small group leaders finishing this sentence: what i wish i knew about middle school small groups…

responses can be serious or funny. here are a handful of examples of what we have so far:

Bob: I wish I’d known that I wasn’t a failure if I had a day when I didn’t accomplish anything. Or that if I had one good interaction with one boy, that it could still be a successful day.

Heather: I wish I would have known just how much these junior high kids would affect my life and my own spiritual growth!

Carolyn: I wish I would have known that Junior High students will usually not express their appreciation for you as their Leader.

Chuck: I wish I’d have known that 6th grade boys can actually settle down and listen, when you connect with them and they know you are listening to them.

if you lead a middle school small group, we would love to consider adding your comment to that bit in the book. just post it as a comment here, within the next couple days (since our book deadline is monday!).