As we have been honestly evaluating our Middle School Ministry, here are the challenges that keep bubbling to the surface:
- Students, (and their families), are inconsistent at how often they participate in our weekend services and which service they attend. There are some core families that are here and involved almost every week, but they are in the minority. This has made it very difficult for Small Group Leaders to build relationships with the students and parents.
- Although this varies, we have heard significant feedback from Small Group Leaders about wishing they had more time for small groups, especially when discussions really get rolling and then it is time to go.
- I don’t think the students notice, but behind-the-scenes, our weekend services feel tense, inflexible and sometimes rushed to get through everything we are trying to do in 70 minutes.
- We haven’t had much freedom to be creative in what elements we offer in the services or in the order of what we do.
- We also haven’t had much freedom for small groups to be able to dive into a topic outside of what we are covering in the main teaching time.
With all that in mind, we have decided to make a significant change to how we do small groups by giving them their own time to meet on Sunday nights from 6:00-7:30pm in the Education Wing at Mount Pleasant Christian Church, and other rooms in the main church building, while the High School Ministry “engage” service is meeting in the Student Ministries Center.
- Since students would only be coming if their parents or older siblings are bringing them for Small Group, there should be greater consistency among the group members.
- This would give 90 minutes for Small Groups. I know that might intimidate some, but once we help leaders out with games and social time, having a good discussion, accountability/application time, and prayer can easily fill this.
- Small Group Questions will flow out of the middle school ministry weekend service. A quick 10-minute version of the teaching will be available via video to show as a recap for those who were there and an introduction for those who missed.
- Using wisdom and prayer, Small Group Leaders can work through topics and teachings separate from the weekend service with approval from the Middle School Pastor, from time to time.
- Our weekend services can be more relaxed, flexible, and highly interactive.
- Small Group Leaders would be encouraged to come Saturday or Sunday once in a while to the service where most of their group members attend, but this would not be required or expected of them.
- People who want to volunteer with a rotating schedule or flexibility in the weekend services now have the opportunity to do so.
- We are maintaining the same schedule as High School Engage to make it family-friendly.
- High school students would be able to still serve in our weekend services, but no longer in the role of Small Group Leader. This is the biggest cost. But we would still involve them in highly relational roles in our weekend services and special events.
- Coming back Sunday night. This now is a 2nd time students are to come to church if they have already come to a weekend service. However, if they are going to be involved in a high school small group or Adult Group one day, it would be a similar expectation for them.
We are operating on a very fluid schedule right now as our church navigates meeting in person with social distancing and other government guidelines and recommendations in place. So we do not have an exact timeline for implementing this right now. We do expect the groups to start meeting within a few weeks of successfully being able to have in-person weekend services for middle school students.
I know there is no perfect program and no one way to do church, much less student ministry. I, (Mike), have been serving at MPCC for twelve years and in youth ministry for over twenty, so I have seen how true this is.
Our goal with this change is to help increase the health of our Middle School Ministry by providing a way to do small groups like we have always wanted to do but not been able to do. The ultimate goal of this is to become better partners with parents in discipling students to know and follow Jesus. That is our hope and prayer. Whether you agree or disagree, like or don’t like, this change, we hope this is your prayer too.