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Teaching Middle Schoolers About God: How to Be More Strategic and Relational

Ok, let’s do some math.

More than likely, the average six graders who are coming to your church will actually come less than 50 percent of the time.

That means they’ll likely spend about 25 hours in your church this year.

Of those 25 hours at least 30 percent will be spent:

  • Getting into the room
  • Saying “hi” to friends
  • Playing games
  • Updating social media
  • Saying “bye” to friends

So that means they’ll actually experience less than 20 hours of teaching or small group interaction in a given year.

The reality is that your middle schoolers will use their smartphone more in one week than they will attend your church in one year.

So, here’s the question: If you have less than 20 times to connect to a sixth grader this year, what are you going to teach them? How are you going to influence the spiritual direction of the average child or teenager when you only have a few minutes every other week?

You could increase your time with each kid if you: build a Christian school, start at 6 AM, Bible study before school, force every parent to sign a 52-week contract…


You could rethink your strategy to make the most of the limited time you will have at every phase.

The critical question is, how can you be more strategic and relational?

There are three critical questions you should address if you want kids to remember what you teach:

  1. What is the one thing you want a kid to grow up and never forget?
  2. What other core insights do you want them to understand related to that one thing?
  3. What is the plan to recycle those insights so kids will remember them?

All of these questions mean you have to make a difficult choice when it comes to your message. You have to choose what to say and what not to say at every phase. You have to develop the skill of prioritizing truth.

You don’t want them to miss that the foundation of their faith is a relationship – not information. That’s why any content we give them should be organized to reinforce their relationship with God.

If you only have a toddler, a sixth grader, or a teenager for a few times a year, what is the one thing you don’t want them to miss?

This article is an excerpt from the book It’s Just A Phase—So Don’t Miss It: Why Every Life Stage of a Kid Matters and 13 Things Your Church Should Do About It. Read more about the book and order your copy here!

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