Middle school students need to be loved and valued. They need to know that they are important to adults, even though they often communicate that adults are not particularly important to them.
Sin and forgiveness
Students need to know that their importance doesn’t depend on their achievements or abilities. Jesus died for all of us while we were yet sinners. That means we don’t have to earn God’s love; we have it because of His goodness, not our actions. God loves us enough to say no when a yes would endanger us. God loves us enough to tell us in His Word what He expects of us. God loves us with a love that allows us to suffer natural consequences. In the classroom, when teachers love with God’s unconditional love, students know they have value.
Relationships with God and Others
Teenagers typically conform to the attitudes and behavior of their peers. Teens in Christian settings often grow closer to God as God’s Word comes to them through Christian friends and parents. They do not analyze why they believe as they do; they come to believe as those around them do. Relationships are critical, both with God and with their fellow believers. The perceptive teacher uses many relationship-building activities.
Adolescents need opportunities to show their love for God by loving others. Encountering new situations through service opportunities can be threatening and cause teens to be anxious; serving others with a group of peers makes it less intimidating. Many teens discover they enjoy helping others and continue their service activities throughout their lives.
Teens have a need to believe in something larger than themselves, as this guides them on their search for identity. If we hope to nurture our youth for greater spiritual maturity, they must interact with Christian adults who actively live their faith, and we must then provide them with opportunities to express their faith. We need to listen and honestly answer their questions. We need to challenge them to live their faith in a hostile world. We need to share our successes and failures and always let them know how God uses us in spite of ourselves.
Help Middle school students grow in their faith with Enduring Faith Bible Curriculum for Sunday School and Midweek.
Post adapted from Building Faith One Child at a Time, pages 183–84 © 1997, 2016 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.