The Middle Years Ministry

THE MIDDLE YEARS MINISTRY is a Site Dedicated to Providing Resources, Ideas, and Help to Next Generation Pastors, Leader, Directors, Teachers, Mentors. Our goal is to MEET YOU in the MIDDLE in the Middle Years
, the Pivotal 5th-9th Grade Years. The middle ground between children’s ministry and high school ministry. The age where 85% of people make their final life-long faith decisions.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

“Leading a Middle Years Boys Small Group As a Female Leader” (Michelle Rompel)

Since I was a kid, my dominant friends group always consisted of guys. I loved playing sports, riding bikes, and getting dirty. I never realized that this part of me would one day become a huge part of my ministry. I never realized that one day I would have to be a boy’s small group leader.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love being with my ladies, they keep me on my toes and on top of all the school drama. But the boys give me a run for my money, and a good gut laugh every now and then. Generally, we keep our small groups separated by gender and grade to build community with people they would be more inclined to share with and build a relationship with. However, there are always those times when a leader can’t make it and an audible is called. When one of our guy leaders can’t make it to group, I get the chance to jump in and lead the circus. You should have seen their faces, the look of terror, disbelief, questioning whether to run out the door or hide under the pile of bean bags in the corner. I got really excited to be with the guys and talk about real, deep, honest things since I’m normally with the girls and predominantly hear about the boys from my leaders. 

Here is what I learned as a female leading a middle school boys small group:

Don’t try to make them into a girls group: 

My normal girls group can sit in a circle and talk for a solid amount of time. In my mind, I figured the boys could totally handle that! I was wrong. At first they were pretty afraid of me (like most middle school boys around girls). I knew at that point I was not going to get deep with them, so instead of fighting through the incredibly awkward silence and non-eye contact, I took them to our game room and destroyed them at ping-pong. Unlike leading a girls group, I really had to earn my trust with these guys, and that for us, was through being active and competitive (okay, maybe I was just the competitive one).

Embrace tangents: 
Let’s be real, this is for any and all small groups. However, as a female this was a huge chance for me to get the inside scoop on some of the “real world” of middle school boys. As the were distracted playing games, I sneakily would ask questions about school, their family, sports, and whatever they gave me, I ran with it. This can quickly go from “What’s your favorite class” to “And then we dipped the watermelon in ranch dressing”.

Let them teach you something: I gave myself a challenge when I started leading guys groups every now and then. During the time I was with them, my goal was to get them to teach me something. Most recently, I learned multiple dances from FortNite, and I absolutely got destroyed in a FortNite dance battle (little do they know...I’ve been practicing).

More often than not, I won’t get to be a boys small group leader, and I don’t think I should be. They deserve to have a strong male figure speaking into their life, weekly, reminding them that they are loved and belong. I also believe that for them to see women leading in different aspects is huge. T

he biggest thing that I continue to learn as a female leading middle school boys, is how incredibly thankful I am for my amazing leaders who show up for these guys. And seeing how excited these boys are to have their normal leader back (although slightly hurtful when they cheer) makes me understand how much middle school ministry matters and all it can take is one person to change a life.

Michelle Rompel is the Middle School Director at Central Peninsula Church in Foster City, CA. She is currently working on her Masters in Developmental Psychology from Azusa Pacific University and hopes to bridge the gap of development and youth ministry. In her downtime you can usually find her at a coffee shop or an arcade dominating at pinball. Some of Michelle’s highest accomplishments have been catching 23 gummy bears in her mouth in a row, being a dancing Chick-Fil-A cow, and sticking with the Oakland Athletics through all these years.

Twitter/Instagram: @michellerompel

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