Middle School Lock-In/Out

Kat Bair“Hello, you’ve reached [establishment name redacted].”

“Hi, yes, I would like to make a reservation for Saturday night.”

“Sure, ma’am, for how many and at what time?”

“For 30, and what’s your availability around midnight?”

These are the kind of phone calls that define my Tuesday mornings. Youth ministry is a strange profession. These past couple weeks have been especially strange as we over in the Justin have been jostling all the details into place for one of our biggest fall events: the Middle School Lock-In/Out. Starting at 6:00 pm on Saturday, October 1, we invite our beloved 7th and 8th-grade youth into the Justin for an overnight middle school extravaganza filled with games, worship, fun outings, fellowship, and probably not enough sleeping. Anyone who has ever led or volunteered at this kind of event inevitably has a 1:30 am moment when they shake their fist at God (or more likely, whatever youth worker voluntold them to chaperone) and ask, “Why are we doing this?!”

Well, here are three reasons why we play dodgeball, and sing songs, and have candy, and wear ourselves to the bones trying to love these middle school youth well.

1) Play is an important part of Healthy Plate Discipleship! Playing together creates community, belonging, and lifelong friendships. Play celebrates the part of middle school youth (and all of us) that is still a child, and takes great joy in being silly with people we care about.

2) Middle school youth are establishing who they will be for the rest of their time with the church. The current series we’re teaching at Middle School Sunday School, and which we will be supplementing at the Middle School Lock-In/Out, focuses on how students figure out who they are going to be. We’re talking about how our choices and our friends lead us into wrestling with God about who we are becoming. While a lot of adults (myself included) would say they repressed a lot of memories from the 11 – 14 age, the things that happen, the way people treat us, and how we are loved at church has a huge impact on our identity and sense of self. If you want mature, servant-hearted, God-loving seniors standing up at church on Youth Sunday, you start by loving them and playing silly games with them as energetic, unsure 7th-graders.

3) We are all equally part of the body of Christ. I don’t want you to misread what I said about Youth Sunday as “we get through this phase with them so we can get to the good stuff.” Friends, this is the good stuff. We, as the congregation of the church, at these students’ confirmation (some barely six months ago), welcomed them in as members and renewed our covenant to love and support them now. These are our newest members, and they are fingers and toes of the body as much as any other ministry. As 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” Paul called the young to set an example to the older believers. May we believe that they can set that example and keep an eye out for it.

Be in prayers for us and some of our youngest members of the church, especially as we head into the Middle School Lock-In/Out this weekend! We are so happy to be serving in this way and hope you’ll join us in prayer, in support, and in loving the middle school youth in your life for all they are becoming and all that they are right now!



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