Today I have spent some time recording some information I know about my students. I am recording more then just information such as address, email address, and school. I am logging information about what sports they like, what subjects they are most likely to bring up, and anything else I can to help me know more about them. As I was working on this project I noticed some of the differences between by 7th graders and 12th graders.
We have a good amount of 6th graders who will be moving up to our department next summer. I am thankful to have a man who serves in our youth ministry who has a heart for the JR High students. The High School students often do something that makes me think “what are you thinking”. However, with the Jr High students I rarely can figure out what they are thinking.
I found this article on “Tweenagers” that was helpful to me. I want to grow. First of all to be transformed into who God wants me to be. Secondly because growing ministries are only led by growing leaders.
By Mark Bushor @ www.ILeadYouth.com
Most of us have exerted some effort to become knowledgeable in the field of youth ministry. We’ve read every book about growing a youth group and meeting the needs of teenagers. We’ve attended every seminar under the sun that promised to teach us how to strengthen our senior high group while still meeting the needs of junior high. We’ve even led our own workshops to encourage our volunteers and train our teachers. All of this training has helped us minister to our youth and helped to shape the relationships we have with them. So who are we missing?
The fact is that our children’s ministries serve younger children, and youth ministries serve teenagers. One group of youth is left out because they are too old for one ministry program and too young for the other. I’m speaking, of course, of “tweenagers.” Tweenagers are fifth and sixth graders who are a bit too sophisticated to be lumped into children’s time and too immature for youth group.
You may think that tweenagers are not your responsibility; technically, they probably are not. However, there are many advantages to building relationships early and training them for the youth group experience. The transition into the youth group will be much smoother when the tweenagers already feel like their own little group. Work together with the children’s director to recruit volunteers and establish a plan to minister to the unique needs of the tweenager.
Tweenagers need . . .
- To be nurtured by caring adult guides and mentors
- To have a program and/or curriculum all their own
- To have group fun without unnecessary competition or comparison
- To examine their faith commitments, relationships, and roles
- To be offered a warm, inviting, and accepting environment
- To be involved in the planning process
- To experience the joy of serving others
- To develop a positive self-esteem
- To be themselves
- To belong
Who Are the Tweenagers?
- They’re “in-between” childhood and adolescence.
- They’re no longer children and not quite teenagers.
- They’re your fifth and sixth grade students!
They are . . .
- Too old for toys and too young for youth group
- Savvy consumers–keenly aware of the latest fashions and novelties
- Not getting enough quality one-on-one guidance from their busy parents
- The objects of manufacturers’ blatant marketing efforts
- Rabid fans of pop singers such as ’NSync and Britney Spears
- Experiencing extraordinary biological and cognitive changes
- Basing their self-esteem on peers and important relationships
- Targeted by magazines such as Teen People and Teen
- Generally altruistic, enjoying helping others
- Spending an inordinate amount of time in unreal (and/or cloistered) environments (such as video games, the Internet, personal CD players, chat rooms, and email)
- Exposed to everything from divorce, school violence, drugs, AIDS, and the dark side of the Internet to sexual predators
- Influenced by peers, family, school, and church
- In a hurry to grow up