JHigh Ministry

by Bryant Forshee

“God bless you” and “I could never do that” are the two standard responses I receive from people who hear that I have the privilege to serve as a junior high pastor. “JHigh” ministry can have many undesirable qualities to people outside the scope of JHigh ministry, such as:

  • Loud noises
  • Smells that no human should have to smell
  • Axe® body spray to cover up the smells that no human should have to smell
  • Energy. More energy.
  • Short attention spans
  • Puberty

With these stigmas stacked against JHigh students, this impressionable, marginalized and incredibly eager-to-learn group of people are overlooked for the favorable and more mature high school students (who, in my opinion, are way overrated).

If you are interested in, have contact with, or are ever around JHigh students, here are some tips I want you to consider:

Tip #1: They need Jesus.

JHigh students need the Good News of Jesus Christ just like the rest of us! Sure, JHigh students’ problems and life-experiences are not as pressing, egregious or foreboding as adults’ experiences and concerns, but that does not diminish the presence of difficulties and tough life-experiences. Just like every other human being, these students need to realize they desperately need a relationship with their Creator.

Tip #2: Look them in the eye.

Now, do not go full, wide-eyed, creepy-eyed contact – that will not go too well. However, be sure to make eye contact with these students. They are experiencing many impressionable circumstances: puberty, making the team, not making the team, social circles (both in-person and online), etc. Think back to your middle school days and remember what it was like always wanting to feel accepted and wanted. When an adult looks them in the eye, gives them the attention they so desire, and shows value and love for the individual, that JHigh student feels seen, known, loved and welcome into the family of God! 

Tip #3: Love them enough to discipline them.

JHigh students need correction for a couple of reasons. They need it because they need to know that some of their behavior is unacceptable (this is part of the maturation process). The other reason they need discipline is because they need to feel the love of someone who cares enough to call them out when they are wrong and when they should – or should not – be doing something. If they don’t receive discipline from you, some students might not get it anywhere else. You might want to reevaluate your perception of a middle-schooler if you expect a 12-to-15-year-old to act and behave like a well-mannered individual in society. Lovingly and often, discipline them in righteousness.

Tip #4: Let love be genuine.

We should let Romans 12:9 characterize our love for all people. In the context of JHigh students, don’t love them for what they may “become.” Love them for who they are, where they are, and how God has individually and masterfully created them. They can spot a phony a mile away. When you have lost a JHigh student’s trust and “ears” to be able to speak into their life, it can be a challenging task to win them back. Love them and show them the love of Christ in all you do!

Tip #5: Give them an avenue to use their gifts!

A JHigh student who is a Christian and has a relationship with Jesus has at least one spiritual gift! Allow that student to use it! (And he or she may have more than one.) Allow students to be the welcoming team, run the sound board for your services, hold signs in the parking lot as people walk into the church, etc. If you teach them from an early age that they can use their gift(s) from the Holy Spirit for God’s glory in the local church’s context, I truly believe you have an active, engaged serving church member for life!

Conclusion

JHigh students are people with a desperate need for Jesus, people looking for a place to belong, people who need some correction and discipline, people who need to be genuinely loved, people who need an outlet to use their gift(s). JHigh ministry is fun, loud, and requires patience, but it is oh so rewarding!

Bryant Forshee is the Minister to Junior High Students at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.

Comments

  1. Wyndi Elizabeth Geren says

    So good Bryant!! Thank you for pouring into our kids!!!

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