Middle School Ministry Flashback
UPDATE: I’m including a fabulous picture of me from 8th grade at the request of Scott Rubin. It’s good for a laugh, at the very least…so enjoy! In honor of our week of middle school madness, I thought I’d share a little flashback with you from my middle school ministry days. I’m not talking about a flashback from my experience volunteering in middle school ministry… No, I’m talking about a WAAAAY back flashback to when I was in middle school ministry! I have a strange connection to Scott Rubin, co-author of the squirrely new release, Middle School Ministry. See, he’s the youth pastor in the middle school ministry at Willow Creek Community Church, called Elevate. Well, Scott is pretty old, but I don’t think he’s old enough to be my middle school pastor. But I did go to the middle school youth group at Willow back when it was called Sonlight Express and was led by a different guy named Scott. (Is that a great ministry name, or what?!) I remember talking about my memories from Sonlight when I first met Scott a few years back, and it was fun to think back on why I loved my middle school ministry experience. Maybe in my fond memories you’ll find something useful. Maybe not. Either way, here goes! I was only slightly overwhelmed the first time I walked into the dark room where a few hundred middle school kids were screaming and cheering while a few of the brave ones competed in the relay races happening in the middle of the room. I didn’t know anyone there, but I was quickly introduced to Randy and Pam, who were the team leaders for the kids from my neck of town. I think my team was called the Pink Flamingos that year. Soon, like everyone else on my team, I’d show up for Sonlight on a Saturday morning with a pink boa, or some hot pink shorts, or some kind of flamingo decor to be used for cheering on my team. The energy at Sonlight drew me in quickly. And like every other girl in junior high, my crush on the worship band’s lead singer kept me coming back. But it was the teaching from Scott Peterson and my interactions with my small group leaders that really stuck with me. The summer between 6th and 7th grades, I went to camp with Sonlight. Scott talked about Psalm 1 and pointed out the tallest pine tree across the river. He explained how this tree was planted firmly near streams of water, that yields its fruit and never loses its leaves…and I wanted to be like that tree. I wanted to be blessed like the one mentioned in Psalm 1. That summer, I decided to follow Jesus and I was baptized in the Tahquemenon River in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Not unlike so many other youth groups, there was transition in Sonlight. I think I had a different small group leader every year of middle school. But every woman who led me during those years was passionate about Jesus, about Sonlight, and about me. They spent time with me outside the walls of that church, they wrote me notes that I’ve hung onto all these years, and in so many ways they helped me become the woman I am today. Like a lot of teenagers, I wandered away for a bit during high school. But after I graduated, I found myself working at the very camp where I first chose to live like Jesus. I watched countless middle school kids get baptized in that same river that washed away my sins. And every time they came up for air with the wide smiles on their faces, I felt my own soul leap once again. I think that’s where my desire to serve in middle school ministry was born… I really wasn’t sure what I’d say when I set out to write this post. But now that it’s done, I think I want to end with this: Whatever your role in the lives of middle schoolers, know that you are important to them. Your interest in their lives speaks volumes. Your desire to walk with them is priceless. Your impact on them, while it may not be visible right now, will go on forever… Thank you for serving middle schoolers.
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