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SCOTT: Sin #1, for me, is "wait until high school to really take students' spiritual growth seriously."If you want to mess this up, just wait until high school. You know, keep them in a holding pattern, or aholding tank, while they're in junior high. In other words, if you just keep them in the church, babysit themuntil high school, then you can really start the spiritual conversations. It's stupidity.

JONATHAN: It's a mistake, huh?

SCOTT: Absolutely. Too many times we wait. We say we'll get to that later...I have too many pressingissues right now. I think high school ministry becomes rehab when we do that. But if we do junior high ministryright, it can be preventive in so many ways.

JONATHAN: Well, Scott, what couple of words of advice could you give the person who is overwhelmed withtheir responsibility for junior high, senior high, and college ministry kids who may be kinda "babysitting"their junior high schoolers?

SCOTT: Great question. First, just know that not everybody has to have a passion for junior high ministry.There is permission for other passions, just don't neglect the junior high students. Somewhere in your group ofleaders, there is someone you could fire up about junior high ministry. Equip them and encourage them to championit. They can be your junior high expert. Those leaders do not have to be just can't forget about them!

DAVID: Yeah, I've seen that at work in our own church. We have a strong children's ministry, strong juniorhigh, and now a strong high school ministry. Our pastors kept asking, "Why do we have to wait to do missions untilour kids are in high school?" Our Children's pastor even took kids out-of-country for projects. Because if you arenot instilling faith in junior high students, what are you gonna do, microwave it at the high school age? It's justnot going to work.

SCOTT: Yep. Now, we intentionally leave some things out for high school. You know, we say we're going toget this far, but I want to hold some things out. We save some ministry for high school students.

TODD: I'm wondering how many people are feeling a little guilty, because they stand on that soapbox thatsays, "Youth are the church of today," but they do hold back their junior high kids. I just am thinking of some ofthe adults who would rather wait until the kids are out of high school, or out of college, before they take themseriously.

JONATHAN: OK, so what's Sin #2?

SCOTT: Ok, this might surprise you in some ways, but Sin #2, if you really want to mess up junior highyouth ministry: NEVER EVER think about your own junior high school years. Just block them out. Never go backthere. Don't pull out an old junior high year book. Never go back to the thought, feelings, and emotions youhad in junior high.

JONATHAN: But Scott, all of the youth culture sessions we attend and the stuff that we hear and readtoday says everything is different today. So shouldn't we just block all that stuff out?

SCOTT: In some ways, that's true. A lot of things are different. But, at the same time, the awkwardness,the "trying-to-figure-out-who-I-am, I'm not an adult but I'm not a kid either," those experiences are much thesame. For instance, you remember being ticked at your parents, you remember your buddy being a foot taller thanyou, you remember not being able to understand certain things.

JONATHAN: Yeah! My next door neighbor Matt V. had armpit hair and I didn't.

SCOTT: See. You're still scarred.

TODD: Not only is all that you guys just mentioned true, but, my best friend in 5th and 6th grade was notmy best friend in 7th and 8th grade. That was the hardest thing as I look back. I am now able to look back andsee how one whole group of us went in different directions, but could not see it then.

SCOTT: That's a good example. I think you will see that a lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same.

DAVID: Yep. You're still asking the same questions: Who am I? Where do I fit in? DO I fit in? Who's likeme? The questions have grown in number today. But at the core, kids today are still asking the same questions thefour of us asked of ourselves back then.

SCOTT: You know, one practical thing that I do is keep my junior high yearbook on my desk so I can stumbleacross it occasionally. I flip through it and remember what a dork I was. And that is just from looking at thehairstyles alone.

TODD: Did Scott just say "WAS a dork?"

JONATHAN: That's pretty brave for a guy with no hair! At least he has hair!

SCOTT: Yeah, so that is Sin #2.


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