By Jaime Handley

It’s 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday night. You have figured out the worship playlist, what games to play and what music will be in the background. You have walked through your teaching points and polished up all of your illustrations. You’ve printed everything out for your small group leaders to be set up for a win. You are ready. And then you remember … what about middle school? What about that group of awkward “tweeners” who are stuck somewhere between elementary and high school? That rambunctious group that’s full of energy and questions? Those pint-sized teens who are still figuring out how (and why) to use deodorant?

For some, this group of emotionally charged young people can be more than just hard to figure out—they can be downright scary. But the truth is, whether you are a full-time high school pastor whose had middle school tacked onto your schedule, a volunteer who has been asked to “help out” (ahem, that usually means “take over”) with middle school students or the rapidly sprouting full-time, middle school pastor, middle school students are an ever-emerging group that can’t be ignored!

And why should they be? As this developmental stage of early adolescence has become more talked about and studied, we are quickly discovering the potential of speaking directly to this unique student group. Sure, we could lump them in with the high school ministry and have a 6th–12th grade spread, hoping that we can teach to the middle and have success. But really, to make our ministries successful across the board, the best way to connect every student in our group to the gospel message is to make that message as clear, relevant and age-appropriate as possible.

And so, as you—our amazing partners—have asked for help with your wonderful (and sometimes schizophrenic) middle school students, we have been researching, reading, learning … we have been listening. And we are excited to roll out the new XP3 Students Middle School Curriculum Component!

Designed specifically for the developmental, emotional and spiritual maturity of your middle school students, this new component seeks to speak in a language that they can understand. Because we know that middle school students respond to so much of their world through feelings and emotions—and yet can’t always name those emotions—we have developed illustrations, script text and small group questions that help them relate the biblical truths presented from week to week and reflect and go deeper with God and, because of that, with themselves.

This downloadable curriculum component is tailor-made for a middle school audience and is now a regularly available tool in your XP3 work belt. And, it syncs up with the XP3 Students High School curriculum by using the same bottom lines, XPs, Parent CUEs and Art, allowing you to either begin the process of separating out your middle and high school groups or simply make it easier to do what you’ve already been doing.

Because we can keep ignoring those “scary and crazy” middle school students or we can embrace them. And for those of us who have ventured into the crazy world of middle school students, we know the joys of working with such a unique group of students. From a lot of fart jokes and crazy antics to heartbreaking and wonderful moments of vulnerability, working with middle school students is a privilege. And we are so excited to be on the journey with you!

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