RYM 004: How Are Middle School And High School Students Different?

Navigating the tension of how to effectively communicate to and connect with both middle school and high school students can be difficult. If you’ve ever wondered, “Is it possible to address every kid in every grade?” this episode is for you! In today’s episode, ministry leaders talk about the differences between the middle school and high school phases, and why it’s important to leverage unique opportunities in each grade that you may never get again.

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How do I address both middle school and high school students? (2:15)

It’s important to step back and ask yourself, “Who am I talking to?” (5:30)

How do I address kids at every stage? (7:00)

“If you’re trying to be effective, you’ve got to go where they are—and they’re all at different places.” – Shef (7:30)

You have different opportunities at each grade that you will not get again. (8:45)

If you can separate by guys and girls—that’s best. If you can separate by gender AND grade, that’s even better. (10:15)

Middle School Phases (11:25)
6th grade – Who do I like? Who likes me?
7th grade – Who am I?
8th grade – Who do I want to become?

High School Phases (13:00)
9th grade – Where do I fit in?
10th grade – Who am I personally?
11th grade – What’s my purpose?
12th grade – What’s next?

How are we equipping SGLs and parents to teach in these phases? (18:00)





Sarah is a writer and communicator who has been involved in ministry since 2003. In 2007, she joined the XP3 high school team where she now works as a lead writer and content creator. She also a contributing writer to the Parent Cue blog. Sarah lives in Roswell, Georgia, and is a big fan of her husband, her two boys, Asher and Pace, and, in her weaker moments, McDonald’s french fries.


Tom Shefchunas is the Executive Director of Student Strategy at Orange. In this role, he leads the development and strategy for XP3 Middle School and High School curriculum. Previously, Tom was North Point Ministries’ Multi-Campus Director of Transit, their middle school ministry, for 12 years. And before that, he spent 10 years as a high school teacher, coach, and principal. Additionally, he is the co-author of Lead Small with Reggie Joiner. Tom and his wife, Julie, live in Cumming, Georgia, with their three children, Mac, Joey, and Cooper.


Crystal currently leads the XP3 High School initiative at Orange. Before that, she spent 10 years as a high school teacher and student ministry leader, doing everything from leading small groups to speaking to curriculum design. Crystal and her husband, Tom, live in Alpharetta, GA with an ill-tempered chihuahua named Javier.


Ashley Bohinc serves as the Director of Middle School Strategy at Orange, co-host of The Think Orange Podcast, and co-author of The Art of Group Talk. She’s worked with students in public education, athletic, and ministry settings since 2005. Ashley is most passionate about resourcing the local church, communicating onstage, developing leaders, working with students, and engaging in world missions. Additionally, she’s the USA Director of Carry 117. In her downtime, you’ll find her watching Friends, cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers, traveling, reading, or on one of her Fairytale Friday Adventures.

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Orange Conference 2018