Formerly "The JH Uth Guy", THE MIDDLE YEARS MINISTRY is a Site Dedicated to Providing Resources, Ideas, and Help to Pastors, Leader, Directors, Teachers, Mentors and Anyone Else Working in the
Pivotal and Important 5th-9th Grade Years. The “Middle Years” are not children’s ministry, not high school ministry, and are more than just Middle School/Jr. High. It is a unique and specialized ministry, where the final lifelong faith decision are made.
You probably have one, I think every ministry I have been a part of over 20 years has had one. They take on different shapes, colors, and designs. A few have even had some awesome 1970’s flowers. They are the youth room couches. Ours currently is a green ugly sectional monstrosity. It sits in the very center of our youth cafe. It is honestly the first thing you see when you walk into the space, and I hate it! My students however love it, because it is beaten and worn to a point of being comfortable. Students show up, come in and get comfortable as soon as they are sucked down into it pillows. The problem is once they have been pulled in they are stuck in it and it is hard to get them out.
During my Jr. high and high school years I played sports, mostly basketball and soccer. I loved it. The connection, the teamwork, and the focused purpose were all things that grew and developed me. While I enjoyed being a part of a team, it was a different kind of enjoyment than just sitting on a couch relaxing. The reason was the coaches I had. Each of them pushed me to be better and challenged me to push beyond what I thought I could do. I remember showing up to practices never knowing what to expect as the coach stood waiting. My coaches were not there to be warm, fuzzy and make me feel comfortable. Their purpose was to make us better individual players and an overall better team. How they did that was got us on our feet and moving non-stop.
So as a youth leader which are you…A Youth Room Couch or a Youth Room Coach?
Youth Room Couch
A youth room couch leader creates a comfortable place for students to come. They make students feel relaxed to be there. Their main job is to provide students a place to hang out and get to know each other. This leader creates a ministry just like they are, worn out but comfortable. Everyone knows what to expect when they walk in each meeting time because nothing really changes. The ministry has been in the same place, with the same look as long as anyone can remember. People may not be happy with the outdated or overused style, but no one really wants to change it.
Students of the youth room couch are fine with them. They love the fact that they are not really challenged to do anything beyond just sit there. They come and sit comfortably in the life they have chosen to live. They come and then they go with nothing really much changed, other then that they feel better from some warm, fuzzy moments.
Is that you as a leader? Is that your ministry? Are those your students? Is it all just a familiar, fun youth ministry just like an old couch that is the mainstay of some many church youth rooms?
Youth Room Coach
A youth room coach creates a place for students to come and get to know each other, but it is through being challenged together. Their main job is to not just to provide yet another place to hang out and be comfortable. They would rather do the job of training and cheering on students as they learn to do great things for God. Each week students come never knowing what to expect. There is an excitement for the unknown, the future, and a shared purpose. People are supportive while also being very aware that this not just the same old youth ministry that the church has always had.
Students of the youth room coach are coming not because of emotional experience, but rather because the truth of God’s word is being spoken. Often even the hard to hear and uncomfortable instructions are being heard. Students come each week and walk away not always feeling better, but knowing that they have been pushed to be better. The moments that they shared were stretching and even painful at times, but they know they are now stronger because of it.
Is that you as a leader? Is that your ministry? Are those your students? Is it all more than what the world offers of some quick therapy and a pat on the back? Is what happens in your youth room each week as you lead going farther and deeper?
It might just come down to what we want most and even what are churches want most from our ministry between the two of these—more kids in the seat or more kids on their feet? Youth room couch or youth room coach which one are you? Which one do you want to be?