What a great question from Mark Oestreicher’s blog.
How, when, and why do you split middle school and high school?
We have had to address this question this summer based on a couple of factors.
1) Number of students that were in our old breakdown (going into grade seven and eight).
2) Number of students in our sr. camp (up to grade six).
3) Number of staff in each of the two camps.
4) Where will those students entering grade six in September thrive and learn more about their walk and relationship with God?
Our sr. camp staff are great at teaching the Bible to their age group, but looking at the students in terms of the developmental growth it seemed like the best fit for them would be to enter into the jr. high camp.
I am excited to see what happens with these students this summer. I am also aware that this question in the blog addresses splitting jr. high and high school, but I think the same question needs to be asked when we look at where we split our children’s ministries and our jr. high ministries as well.
Marko makes the following point in terms of how he views this question.
First, with the continued extension of adolescence (about 20 years long now, on average, from 10 or 11 through the 20s), the difference between 12 year-olds and 17 year-olds just seems more markedly pronounced than ever. And I’m no longer convinced that the benefit of momentum and energy and hype is worth the trade-off of providing a developmentally and culturally inappropriate ministry for either group.
Josh Griffin suggests that there will not be enough room, volunteers, budget, or time to keep your youth ministries combined.
Developmentally a 13-year-old kid and an 18-year-old new adult are worlds apart. While I like the idea of occasionally doing events or services together, I love the wins of programs that meet their needs specifically.
IN the same article on Slant33, Jeremy Zach sums up why he separates ministries this way.
Middle school students are concrete thinkers. They cannot think abstractly. They need life to be black and white. Middle schoolers are also intuitive. Somehow they manage to feel their way through life. Middle schoolers are emotional basket cases. Their emotional worlds consist of many highs and lows. So let the drama unfold and be the stable adult who anchors them in reality while affirming their crazy emotions. They need consistent adult relationships because they are so dependent. They also need to experience the affective side of God’s character. They need to feel Jesus in addition to just learning about him. This is why worshiping through music and environment are such a big deal for middle school students.
So I leave you with the same question that MarkO titles his post with:
How, when and why did you split jr.high and high school ministries? Leave us a comment as to what led to your decision, or leave us a question and we will dialogue this question together.