Written by Julie Clapp
YL Regional Initiatives Coordinator, North Central Texas.
“Can we really go deep with 13-year-olds?” It’s a common question as people think about leading WyldLife Campaigners. And the answer is “yes!”
When we open up Scripture with younger kids, God uses His Word to change their hearts and lives. Middle school kids may not always be able to verbalize what they’re learning, but they do think about what they hear at Campaigners as God grows these seeds of truth. If you’re ready to start Campaigners, here are three things to keep in mind:
Think about your vision for Campaigners. What do you want kids to experience and learn in a year? Perhaps it’s as simple as giving them a genuine respect and appreciation for Scripture. Maybe it’s giving kids a picture of the heart of God through stories about Jesus. Consider selecting a theme and planning lessons accordingly. One example: “Jesus knows what it feels like to be…” (tired, sad, tempted, lonely) Maybe it’s giving kids the opportunity to process what they hear at club. Ask the club speaker to prepare questions that can be used at the next Campaigners. Since WyldLife talks are short, it allows kids to walk through the Scripture in more detail.
A Safe Place
Middle school kids want to be loved and accepted, so we need to provide a place where they experience both. The first step is letting kids know there are leaders who care about them. That may mean waiting a semester before starting a Campaigners group. Also, younger adolescents are not always certain how to act around the opposite sex or older kids, so smaller groups divided by grade and gender work best at this age. Finally, consistency and presence are important. Kids may not remember specific lessons, but they’ll remember leaders who were there week after week.
You won’t spend an hour with your noses in the Bible. Start with food and games. Give kids a chance to talk, have fun and play for 30 minutes. Then spend 15 minutes talking about God’s Word. Use crafts, activities or games to help this group that learns by doing and experiencing. Surprise kids with a Campaigners activity one week by applying what they’ve learned in a real way. Or have a “cabin time” Campaigners at the end of club and give kids the opportunity to talk about what they just heard.
Bottom line? The Bible is God’s word and it applies to all people of all ages. Middle school kids are looking for truth in a changing world. Our challenge as leaders who know them and love them is to think through how to communicate this truth in an age-appropriate and applicable way.
Resources Recommended by WyldLife Staff
(Some of these shouldn’t be used as is, but are great places to start and then adapt.)
- WyldLife One Campaigner Focus on staff web site
- 32 Great Bible Studies for Youth by Keith Stulp
- Object Lessons: 100 Lessons from Everyday Life by Charles Ryrie
- Pictures of God by Mark Oestreicher and Todd Temple
- Middle School Talksheets from Youth Specialties