Last year, at about this time, we were wrapping up our final mid-week worship service for middle school students. It’s a unique service because our “ready to get out of here” 8th graders are mixed in with our rising 6th graders who join us for the first time.

Our church is one of those crazy churches who promote 5th grade students into the middle school youth group. I have feelings both ways about this but we can talk about that in another blog.

Nevertheless, the service is unique for many reasons and it left me feeling crazy and old. I honestly felt like I was losing my mind trying to keep the squirrely 11 year – and the socially stimulated 14 year-olds focused for a ten minute message.

This year was no different, with one exception: I knew that this is a season we go through. Every year we have this transition. Every year a new class brings a new and different type of life to your group and an old class says “c u later”.

In our final round of toilet paper dodge-ball, just as I was thinking, “maybe I should retire young?”, I remember this truth, only learned by remaining in youth ministry.

The truth is that we grow with our students.

It takes time.

It takes listening.

It takes a few extra cases of Dr. Pepper.

It’s only a season that yields all sorts of fruits.

So, as I sat down with a new middle school small group (a group of fourteen 11 year-olds), I see their faces, start to learn their names, discover that one has an obsession with talking about potatoes, and remember why I love what I do. Their stories keep us going, their transformation (physically, mentally, and spiritually) are worth the wait.

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