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Top 10: “Silver Bullets in 5th-9th Grade Ministry…And Beyond”

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We all want to know the “silver bullet”… the “secret sauce”… to youth ministry, even more specifically middle years ministry.

I have people ask me all the time about the “silver bullets” or “secret sauces.”

I also hear and read just as much there is none, there are no bullets, sauces and secrets.

Well, I think there is actually more than one there are a couple. After hanging around this youth ministry thing for awhile now and spending that last half of my youth ministry years working with 5th-8th graders.  I have noticed a couple things over and over again in other people’s ministries (and my own).

Here are at least TEN silver bullets…  

10.  Bible Teaching in Relevant, Real Ways. 

Cut the show and the fluff, stop trying to be the next _________ (insert your favorite speaker) and teach the Bible.  Notice I didn’t use the word “preach”, the word is teach!  Teach the always relevant truth in relevant ways that relate to real life of your students. (*see #4, below)

9.  A Great Team. 

You cannot do it alone.  You need other people filling in the gaps of your weaknesses and pushing your strengths farther. Your personality is not going to fit with every student so build a team with some people like you and a bunch of people not like you at all.

8. An Actual Love For and Personal Calling to Students.  

Do not keep doing this thing if you are looking at it as the old “stepping stone.” Do not do this because someone said you had potential, do it because God called you! Please do not keep doing this if you don’t like 5th-9th grade students or you have got to a point you do not like them anymore!

7. A Clear Vision and Direction. 

Know what you are doing and how you are doing it.  Be able to fully and clearly explain it to everyone who asks.  If you are unprofessional and unorganized, your vision and direction will be unprofessional and unorganized and then your ministry will be too.

6. Communication.

 See #7.  Tell everyone about what, when, where, who, and why all the time and in every way possible.  Information that Interests will turn into Involvement.

5. Relationships and Connection. 

Not friendship, but absolutely relationship.  Get to know students, their lives, families and NAME! Students will come back if they know they are cared for, loved and connected to you, your team and other students.

Also, relationship and connections in your church with parents, staff and members.  Find and build adult relationships and connections.

4. Creativity and Willingness to Continue to Change.

You do not have to be personally creative, but be willing to let your ministry be creative (see #9) by finding other people who are AND/OR look around and find borrow and buy! With creativity comes the continual, ongoing, NEVER ending willingness to change.

3. Your Senior Pastor.  

Yep, them.  If you get them onboard and excited about what you are doing and what is coming on. They will be your cheerleader, protector and supporter!   You can not get very far, for very long, if they are not onboard (*see #7 & #6)

2. Parents! 

In the 5th-9th grade they are the ride, the wallet, the permission and the life.  You want to do ministry, you have to be ministering to parents and families.  Get them on your team by getting them ON your team!  Parents make great leaders.  Like the Senior Pastor, they will be your cheerleader, protector and supporter!

1. God!! 

This is not the obvious answer or the go to #1 of the list because it has to be.  If your ministry is formed around a program, a curriculum, a church, fun or YOU! It will fail at some point sooner or later.  If your ministry is formed around being successful and that is your focus, it will fail. Those things will become “god” instead of GOD!

Your want to know the silver bullet, it is God, but it is honestly not on as many people’s lists as you would think in reality.


dan.DAN ISTVANIK is the 5th to 8th-grade pastor at Victory Church in Lancaster, PA. He has been working in youth ministry for over 20 years serving churches in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Virginia. Besides serving in the local church setting he is also the youth ministry content writer for Parent Ministry.Net, along with being a contributor to a variety of other great youth ministry resources like Youthworker Journal, Group Magazine, Download Youth Ministry, and more. Additional he shares daily Jr. high/middle school ministry specific resources, and hints on his own blog “The Middle Years” at: WWW.MIDDLEYEARSMINISTRY.COM.

This post was previously published by middleyearsministry.com


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS. 

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