(If nothing else, read the articles at the bottom, thanks!)
My first week as the Middle School Director at UFC I was given a pen and a paper, and told to write down the vision for the Middle School Youth Group. I needed to answer the question: when kids leave the middle school ministry and move on to high school, what is one thing I want them to take with them? After much thought, prayer, and discussion, it became clear to me that if middle schoolers went on to high school with nothing but one thing, I would want them to have an understanding and love for God’s word. Our statement now reads: Our mission is that middle school students would know, love, and obey God’s word.
Ultimately, we want students to have a relationship with Jesus, but how do we know about that relationship? The foundation of our faith is found in God’s revelation to us, the Bible. Within the Bible we have everything we need for life and godliness. It tells the story of how God created a good world, how man rebelled against God and fell out of a relationship with him, how God never gave up on his creation but set in motion a plan to redeem his people back to him and deal with their sin, how this plan is ultimately fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and how through faith in him we can have life eternal and abundant. The Bible contains the most important story ever told, the best news ever given. It is the words of the God of the universe, communicated to us in a form and language we can understand.
For middle schoolers, what is more important that knowing, loving, and obeying the word of God? If they know God’s word, they will know God. A greater knowledge of God, his character, and what he has done for us leads to greater love for him. The more we love God, the easier it becomes to obey him and live the life we were created to live. This is why we have middle schoolers read through the Bible in a year, and teach through it on Thursday nights.
But we cannot do this alone, nor should we.
We believe teaching kids to read and understand the Bible begins in the home, with their family. This isn’t easy, but the fruit that comes from reading the Bible at home within your family is incredible. Our job as a youth group is to come along parents and support them as they disciple their children in their relationship with Christ. We hope to encourage families to be in the Bible together often, and offer teaching and resources to help along the way. Here are a couple articles about reading the Bible with your kids that are very encouraging, and say everything I would like to say much better than I ever could.
-Brad Libolt, Middle School Director