We are happy to announce the launch of our Riverside Middle School Ministry. For the first time at Riverside Church, we will offer a ministry that is tailored to the developmental and spiritual needs of 6th – 8th graders. By launching the middle school ministry, we will have a greater opportunity to move students from “inherited faith” to “intrinsic faith.” In short, this structural move will allow us to capitalize on a brief window of opportunity to move students to take ownership of their faith.
The middle school years (6th – 8th grade) are one of the most misunderstood and underappreciated developmental periods of human life. They’re misunderstood by some adults in general and misunderstood by churches more often than not. In the church, ministry with early adolescents has usually been an add-on ministry – seen as either an extension of the children’s ministry or as preparation for high school ministry.
Culturally, there has been a massive shift in the last 30 years. As the age of puberty drops and youth culture becomes the dominant culture in our world, young teenagers are no longer living the waning years of an innocent childhood. Decisions that used to be the stuff of high school – decisions that have enormous implications for the rest of life – are now played out daily in the lives of 11-14-year-olds.
High school ministry used to be the make-or-break space for critical formation. However, it has been my observation that high school ministry is “corrective” in nature, while middle school ministry is now the make-or-break space (or “preventive” in nature). We believe that if we take advantage of the middle school years, we can set up our students to spiritually thrive in High School, rather than merely surviving through it.
With that being said, current sixth graders will officially move up to Student Ministry on Sunday, September 30th. They will join the current middle school small groups on that day (don’t worry, we have separate environments for both middle and high school students). Small groups begin at 9 am on Sunday’s and we meet in the Lodge (put on the hiking boots and hike up the east side ramps until you reach the student room – you can also follow the music until you find us!).
To celebrate the launch of our new middle school ministry, we are throwing a middle school launch party on Sunday, September 30th after church. This party is for all 6th - 8th graders and their families. We will be having a cookout, games, giveaways, and we will end with shaving cream fight. If you’re feeling brave, come ready to join in that shaving cream fight with your student! Make sure to bring a change of clothes (dark shirts and shorts) and a towel. And as always, friends are always welcome.
While the students are out playing some fun games with their small group leaders, we will have a parent meeting. I will go over our middle school ministry in more detail and answer any questions or concerns you may have about this structural change. We hope to see all of you there!
We are excited to partner with you on this journey! I can’t promise that the journey through Middle and High School won’t be bumpy, but I can promise that our Riverside Student Ministry team will do our best to help navigate your son and daughter through the valleys, transitions, and challenges, so they can get a good view of what God created them to do…Glorify Him.