Middle schoolers know how to celebrate.
They’ll hand out high fives for the best dance move, body slam one another at the end of a game, and post a soliloquy on the Gram (or TikTok) in honor of a best friend’s birthday.
As a leader, you can make sure to take time to remember the moment a middle schooler chooses to place their faith in Jesus, to own their faith. After all, what could be more worthy of celebration?
Why This Decision Deserves Celebration
Birthdays come around once a year . . . as does the end of the school year, Christmas, and Easter. And each time, we plan ahead to make the most of the occasion.
But a person chooses to begin a relationship with Jesus just once. Think about it. When a middle schooler in your group decides to walk with Jesus, you’re witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime event. That’s incredible!
And this once-in-a-lifetime event isn’t about, “You have arrived. YAY!!”
It’s not the celebration at the finish line.
It’s the celebration of the starting line.
It’s a celebration about:
“YAY! You’ve chosen to start this faith journey with Jesus!!! And on this journey you will have a ton of . . .
ups and downs,
good times and hard times,
decisions and doubts,
regrets and redos,
but you are choosing to journey with Jesus through it all.
And we are celebrating with you so you know you aren’t alone, so you know you have a ton of us who really care about you and are cheering for you as you grow in your faith. We are so proud of you for choosing this.”
When we pause to make a big deal out of a single moment, we give credence to its importance. We also plant a memory for times of doubt in the years ahead.
This couldn’t be truer than when we celebrate a middle schooler who chooses to walk with Jesus. After all, the decision prompts a visual of sorts: the path of their own story merging with the path of the story God wrote for them.
The message a middle schooler needs to hear is this: “God loves you, and He’ll never stop loving you. He knows you better than anyone else, and He loves you just the same. In fact, He loves you so much that He wants to include you in the big story He’s writing for our world.”
The moment matters, yes; but the potential of the future is where the real excitement lives.
Three Ideas for Making the Most of a Middle Schooler’s Decision to Walk with Jesus
Don’t let too much time pass between a middle schooler’s decision to follow Jesus and your purposeful, cheerful celebration of the moment. You might:
- Invite key influencers to play a part. Middle schoolers value adult interaction, especially from adults who really care and go out of their way to show it. Reach out to the student’s parents (for sure include the parents), grandparents, teachers, leaders, coaches, or mentors; and ask for a short letter of affirmation and encouragement. Present them to your middle schooler without ceremony, and watch as they try to hide the smile.
- Discuss what an everyday relationship with Jesus really looks like. Middle schoolers can be a bit now-focused. But they do appreciate understanding how following Jesus can change them from the inside out, right here and right now. Take time to talk through what a personal relationship with Jesus looks like and how faith isn’t just about one moment and one decision. That a faith journey looks more like a roller coaster ride than it does a flat highway.
- Encourage your middle schooler to personalize their decision. A middle schooler grasps for more autonomy with every passing year. If they hope to own their faith as they grow, they need to do so for their own reasons and in their own way. Give them a moment during small group time to share with their friends why they chose to follow Jesus and how they feel as a result. Middle schoolers love to talk to their peers—especially from a position of knowledge—so go ahead and let them talk.
By affirming their faith, you’ll help them own their faith and value the community they have at church—two skills that last well beyond a moment.