What are some best practices for organizing a successful Junior High youth group?

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Our church is in the planning stages of trying to revive a Junior High (grades 6-8) group. Does anyone have some experience in organizing a successful program for this age group? In particular, did you model it after your High School group or start from scratch?

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Chelsey,

I am just finishing up my second year of a brand new Middle School ministry.  We have partnered with Young Life to run a WyldLife program in our area.  It is mostly outreach, but definitely meets the needs of the students who already go to the CRC.  I used to do high school ministry, almost exclusively.

A few things that I believe need to be different from high school:

-Students need to be much more active.  The more they run around, the better the memories.

-We do ours every other Friday night, since middle schoolers don't have as much to do on weekends and parents prefer to keep their weeknights early!

-Leader relationships with students look different in middle school ministry.  They need parental figures.

-Younger middle schoolers need to spend time with leaders in groups or pairs.  They are not accustomed to spending time with adults one on one.

-Talks need to be short and story based.  We go through the basic outline of the gospel, each year.  Each meeting, we tell a story about Jesus.

-They want stories to tell.  We kicked off with a pumpkin bash that kids are still talking about.  You can see our outline, here. http://ylhelp.com/2010/06/10/pumpkin-smash-club/

God has definitely showed up in our ministry.  I'd love to talk with you more, if you would like!!

Erin