A Great One Year Devotional for Students

This last week I picked up (Extra)Ordinary, a one year, 365 devotional book for students.

I have been looking for a while for a devotional resource that meet my students where they are and be relevant to the felt needs that are impacting and shaping their lives.  And as I read through it, I could not be more impressed with this book, and even more so, be excited for our students to have a resource that will give shape to their times with God and that will be challenging, relevant, and timely.

It is harder than you would think to find a devotional book that is both relevant as well as actually helps students move closer to Jesus.

This book really is like no other devotional book I have come across.

It is like an old skool, “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.  They devotions are not laid out by day, or by week, but by life circumstance.  Depending on what  is happening in the life of the student, they can choose a devotion that speaks about and into that particular circumstance.

Stephen Ingram is the brains behind this creative approach.  He is a both an excellent writer, as well as a veteran youth pastor who has spent over 15 years in the trenches with real students.  He isn’t remembering back to what he think students need back when he was a kid, but he is daily walking through life and faith with students and this proximity to students comes through in this devotional.  (You can check out more of his writing on his fantastic blog, organicstudentministry.org)

This book is just one of a number of great resources from the good people at youthministry360.com.

I am encouraging my parents to pick this up for their kids, and I would encourage you to pick up a few for your students as well.

Have you checked out JuniorHighMinistry.org?

Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Oh, wait, read the next line then close your eyes and take a deep breath. When you think of student ministry, who is the student that you imagine? Ok, now close your eyes and imagine those students. When I do this exercise I imagine my upper-classmen. The students that I have knowns their entire adolescent careers. The students who I have the most invest in and the ones who are either starting to show some good fruit or have really dramatic stories as they spiral out of control.

Middle School youth group

The reason this exercise is important is because this is the demographic we program for and teach to. But the reality is that student ministry is not just these upper-classmen. They are the 11 and 12 year olds who are just starting the process of individuation, who have much less dramatic stories, who are still concrete thinkers, and are showing little spiritual fruit.

But it is these 11 and 12 year olds who hold the key to long term, healthy, and sustainable ministry. How does middle school ministry stack up to the rest of your student ministry? How much time do they get? How much money do they get? When you break down the hours and budget for our youth program, we have intentionally decided to give a 100% more job hours to that ministry than we do to our senior high ministry.

Because it is so easy for me to plan my ministry around my mental picture of student ministry, I need to intentionally look out for resources that also value the unique place developmentally and spiritually 11 and 12 year olds are in. I often find books and websites specifically geared for middle schoolers are actually the best resources to accurately care for the larger ministry in age and developmentally appropriate ways.

juniorhighministry

One of the resources that I have enjoyed reading this last month is a blog by Terry Goodwin called, JuniorHighMinistry.org. It is a beautiful site with great content. The blog is updated weekly and has everything from practical helps, game ideas, curriculum options, and general issues surrounding middle school ministry.

What are some of the books and websites that you have found helpful as you strive to do ministry to middle schoolers? Please share those with us :)

I encourage you to take a look and soak up this good content. I would also encourage your to intentionally reflect on the mental image of the student you are gearing your ministry towards. Chances are they are upper-classmen who are actually in your mind developed like sophmores in college.

Let's remind each other that we do student ministry. And that the bread and butter of student ministry are middle schoolers, and those middle schoolers are 11 and 12.