by Britt Kitchen
The deafening silence of a small group room is unlike any other. The air seems heavy and suffocating as a question, a good question, just floats out there remaining unanswered. You’d think that these moments are the ones that a small group leader fears the most. After all, these are the moments that we spend the most time worrying about. However, the moment where no one wants to speak up is not the scariest moment for a small group leader.
Actually, the scarier moment is when a group has said everything they need to say and have nothing more to add to the conversation. That’s why we say that three is the “magic number” when it comes to writing our middle school series.
Of course, it’s not really magic, but more like science. We’ve learned a lot about the middle school brain over the past few years. We’ve learned that their shorter attention span is a part of their maturation process. We’ve learned that they need to hear the same ideas repeated year after year, and we’ve learned that their ability to self evaluate is just developing. So, we’ve found that in three weeks, we can usually delve deeply into a topic, while still accommodating our middle schoolers’ minds.
Yes, it usually means more work for us (in the form of more creative elements and up to 17 series a year), but the pay off gained from their attention and retention seems well worth it.
Here are a few hints on how to get the most out of your three-week series:
- Take your best content and divide it up now. Can you think of nine great points on the person of Jesus? Good, you’ve got your March series for the next three years planned!
- Don’t be afraid to creatively wrap a topic in a similar way. Our past three selfishness series have been: Mine, Gotta have it, and Wants and Needs.
- Remember, middle schoolers need the same idea repeated to them year after year before they get it, so don’t worry if your bottom lines or points begin to feel similar to you. Students change so frequently at this age that the same lesson is going to hit differently than it did last year.
Britt has worked on the North Point middle school staff for 11 years as an intern, director of Buckhead Church and currently as the multi-campus creative director. He loves managing the tension between the creative process and logistics of programming, and gets excited about helping students pursue a faith of their own in the middle school years. As a husband and dad of two (Nolan and Ellie), he is proud of his ability to carry on conversations about football, monster trucks and musicals.