Written by Mike Sheley
We have found a creative option for engaging middle schoolers in worship.
If you want to jump right in and see some examples, then view the Haiku Deck presentation below…
P.S. – If you have issues viewing the above Haiku Deck presentation, then click here
In the course of a typical year, our adult leaders serve during our weekend services on a weekly basis.
We give them the summer off to provide them an opportunity to take a break and participate in other activities with their peers.
That’s great for them, but creates a void in our services where we usually devote a significant amount of time to small groups.
To fill that void, we created interactive stations where students have activities to help them reflect on our study for the day, with options to interact with peers and leaders.
(We have a separate team of adult leaders who serve during the weeks when our school year leaders take time off.)
Originally, we simply had one time after the teaching for these interaction stations.
Students could go to any one or any combination of stations. Ten minutes ended up being too long for many students.
So we shrunk the time to five minutes.
Then, through a conversation with another youth pastor, we decided to break up our teaching into 2-3 smaller sections.
Each one is followed by a 5-minute interaction station time. Sometimes we provide different stations for each time. Other times the same stations are offered each time.
Whether you have some cheap little dry erase boards from your local store or a wall painted with Idea Paint, dry erase markers allow students to write words, draw pictures, erase, and repeat!
They can do this individually. They can also work together or modify someone else’s work.
I highly encourage using a camera and an app like Evernote to capture these writings and images, (after students are gone), if they are things you want to – and are appropriate – to keep for later.
Having a space for students to kneel and pray can be a powerful experience for a middle schooler whose prayers have mostly been in a sitting position.
This is also a great opportunity to have students pray with and for each each other and have leaders around who can pray for and with students.
If you have a short passage you have taught from, you can provide a variety of Bibles with different translations for the students to read.
Sometimes reading the same thing in different ways helps them connect and understand it better.
You could also print out passages with the translation reference and have those available on paper or cardstock for students to read.
Websites like biblegateway.com are great sources for a variety of translations.
With this age group, I also encourage comic-style Bibles.
The Action Bible is a full Bible in comic form with powerful visuals.
There are several Manga style Bibles available as well. This might just be the version students need to help them really understand what is going on.
Now it’s up to you!
What interactive stations have you used with students?
Or what interactive stations are you dreaming up that I’ve never considered?
Share with us! If it helps students connect with your teaching and with your church community, we could all benefit from being able to implement that in our own ministries.
Mike Sheley is the middle school pastor at Mount Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood, Indiana. He is also one of the writers of our junior high curriculum.