The Middle Years Ministry

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. It is a unique and specialized ministry.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

4 Quick Insights: Speaking to Middle Years Students (Matt Maiberger)


There is nothing quite like communicating to a room full of middle years students. The smells. The sounds. The zaniness. How do you survive the onslaught and yet make a difference communicating for the Kingdom?




Here are 4 quick insights to help you the next time you find yourself standing in front of a room of 11-14 year olds:

1.  Remember that they are kid-ults.
Middle years students are an interesting breed. They are still in many ways children, and yet, they are also adults in numerous ways as well. Remember, when talking theology, try to use more concrete examples and illustrations than abstract ones.

Many middle years students still utilize a concrete thought process as opposed to abstract. Keep your illustrations, examples, stories as much in the realm of concrete as possible. While it is easy for you to jump to making abstract connections, it may be impossible for them since that part of their brain is yet to develop.

2.  Appeal to their oppositional brains.
By the time a student is 11 or 12 years old, their brains have usually already made the switch to oppositional independence toward their parents and other adults in their life. As a youth speaker, you can actually appeal to this new part of their personality and thinking by challenging them to take action, own their faith and make decisions for themselves.

Be sure to always encourage middle years’ students to stand up for what they believe. Make the response personal by showing how them how their response moves them away from trusting in their parents’ faith and makes their faith their own.

3.  Keep it brief.
Middle years students are known for their short attention spans. Be intentional to prepare messages that are no more than 20 minutes in length. Even in doing so, break them into 3 or 4 different segments so that you keep the flow of the message moving forward at a dynamic pace.

A great rule of thumb to use when calculating message length for an audience of middle years students is to take their age in minutes and add 2. Example: 12 years old = 14 minutes. Also, remember that many pre-teen and early teens attention spans are accustomed to short, quick-hitting YouTube videos. The average time they normally spending watching those videos is 2.7 minutes. Be sure to break-up your message accordingly.

4.  Storytelling? Energy is key.
Telling a story? Use energy. Conducting an interactive activity? Use energy. Whatever you choose to do for those twenty-or-so minutes, be sure that it is high octane. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be serious. Just temper your high energy communication with a few well-placed pauses or moments of silence and you will do well in getting your theme across. 

Storytelling still remains the best method for helping middle years’ students learn and retain spiritual principles. In Matthew 13:34, Matthew records, ”Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables.”
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Matt Maiberger has been involved in equipping teams in leadership, team-building, and communication for over twenty years in the non-profit and education sector. He is privileged to have spoken to over 100,000 students, educators, and leaders as well as worked with renowned institutions such as Monster Worldwide Inc., Axis Ministries, and Michigan State University as well as other great organizations, schools, universities, ministries and churches. Matt is a best-selling author and the founder of a coaching and consulting ministry, Youth Speaker’s Coach. Most importantly, married for more than 20 years, he and his wife, Amy, have three children and reside in Northern Colorado, where he serves as Executive Pastor at Life Church of Fort Collins. 

For more information or to book Matt for an upcoming event, check out his website at: www.youthspeakerscoach.org

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