Here are some of my basic convictions about reaching middle school students at weekend events. My first thought is that discipleship formation definantly has to come from the constant, geographically close connection and relationship of a church and family. This is where faith is lived and formed. At its best, a weekend event gives a student a springboard to more faith questions and desires. It provides a fresh opportunity to receive the message of salvation through Christ and experience it in a new way. The one shot weekend events are geared toward being away from the normal routine and hearing the message with new perspective and energy. It works hand in hand with regular faith formation at home, but doesn’t replace it.
Second, I believe that for middle school students, experiencing the message is of great importance. I want them to have memories of being with their youth leaders, hanging out with the Harvest Band, having interactions with caring leaders in small groups, and experiencing together funny stories and events with their youth ministries. I want these memories to seep into the fabric of their being so that when they look back on life, they think of how much fun it was living in the Joy of the Lord. My prayer is that they would experience Jesus through us. This is why we strive to have the Harvest leaders lead small groups, serve pizza, play games, and lead the sessions. In humility, I think it’s important for middle school students to “rub shoulders” with college age young adults and other Harvest leaders who are walking with Jesus much in the same way – by faith.
Ignition Middle School Conference is one my favorite ways to reach middle school students. Ignition is a weekend event that Harvest began leading about eight years ago. The goal of the event was to share Christ with middle school students – to walk with them for one stretch of their faith journey. It’s awesome to incorporate the gifts of the Harvest team members and other leaders who lead during the event – music, speaking, seminars, small groups, production and hospitality.
For more information about the Ignition Middle School Conference, go to http://harvestministryteams.com/ignition/