I love middle schoolers and I love leading our Edge program. But when you fill a gym with sixty 6th, 7th, 8th graders, there’s always a huge mass of noisey energy. This is definitely overwhelming, especially for the new Edge leader. I’ve often wondered how many times I’ve “Shhhh’d” or “Hey guys, can I have your attention” in one Edge meeting.
When I first started working with this age, I was really frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t hold their attention for very long at a time and that I spent more time trying to get their attention and get them quiet than anything else.
I’ve always liked the phrase “contrary to popular belief”. It gets your attention. It challenges your knowledge. What follows it can leave you feeling sheepish at your own ignorance or quite edified in your own intelligence. Traveling the globe doing ministry these past 15+ years, I’ve noticed a lot of – we’ll call them “trends” – in conversations with youth ministers. While some of what follows is bound to strike a chord (and probably a nerve) with some of you reading it, remember our primary goal: holiness. If our desire is to grow in holiness and improve the quality of the ministries we offer, we must constantly evaluate where we need to die to ourselves, our short-sightedness and our pride.
Last week, I had a meeting with a group of Boy Scouts who are preparing to receive their religious emblems at Easter. It was my job to teach them a lesson on how to pray. I brought them to our Eucharistic chapel, taught a lesson on prayer and then I gave them some time to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I sat back and observed as the ten middle school aged boys prayed, meditated and sat down and opened the Scriptures on their own. It was amazing to watch a group of 11 year-old boys engage