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 4 Things Your Middle Schooler Can't Afford to Miss Out On

What happens when you wake up one morning and discover you are the parent of a middle schooler? It's the confusing land in-between where your son or daughter is no longer a child but not an adult yet. One minute you are impressed by their new mature decision-making, while moments later, they are irrationally emotional. At night they are as sweet and playful as puppy dogs; the following morning, they scour at you like a moody house cat. 

Rest assured, all of this is normal and a sign that their brains are developing. You might be feeling that this season is confusing and challenging for you as a parent.

So, what do we do with the little stranger caught in the land "in-between"? 

First, it's essential to know that everyone goes through stormy middle school years. As much as we would like to pretend, we "never acted that way," we probably did. 

Secondly, we must decide to guide our children through these critical years instead of just letting them happen to them, and to us. Consider this, our society is eager to actively teach our kids things whether we like it or not.

For this reason, most churches, including LCBC, have dedicated resources to developing ministry environments just for middle school students. At our church, we call this environment Collide. These weekly gatherings are designed to guide students through these years with the help of a small group leader while also equipping parents to have great conversations at home. 

Check out a few of the most impactful and practical benefits of getting your child involved in our middle school environment.

1. They'll Get Acceptance Without Conditions

The middle school years are awkward. As students develop and change, they can feel increasingly insecure. They think everyone and everything is judging them. The world is a giant stage, and all eyes are on them. During this time, a desire to "fit in" becomes insatiable. Students want to know where they belong and who their tribe is. 

The problem arises when students align and receive acceptance from relationships that come with conditions. Friends on the baseball team accept you until you get injured and can't play anymore. Friends at school might accept you until there is an inevitable time of drama, and then suddenly, that acceptance is called into question. The desire for belonging is far too critical for students to leave it up to conditional chance.

They need to know they belong regardless of looks, past mistakes, or social status. One of the foundational principles at LCBC and in Student Ministry is that we accept you as you are. Acceptance isn’t conditional. While we challenge students to become more like Jesus and grow spiritually they are still accepted no matter where they are on that journey.

2. They'll Build Friendships that Encourage

Making friends is a benefit of most extracurricular offerings. The soccer team, the Boy Scouts, and even band practice offers the promise that you will make friendships. The question remains what kind of friendship do you want for your son or daughter? It's likely that our children will become like the people they spend the most time with. 

1 Corinthians 15:33 reminds us of this truth, “Do not be misled: " bad company corrupts good character." Choosing to keep your student actively involved in a ministry like Collide at LCBC ensures that your student has the opportunity to make friends that may encourage and embolden your child. 

Students see they are not alone in wanting to make wise but maybe unpopular decisions. They receive acceptance and encouragement from friends while having fun. The old saying "show me your friends, and I'll show you your future" is completely accurate. Our hope is to create an environment that cultivates these friendships and positively impacts their future.

3. They'll Develop a Christian Worldview

When we are in middle school, our brains go through some difficult and essential changes. Our prefrontal cortex is developing during this season. The prefrontal cortex is the captain of the brain. It is where mediating conflicting emotions, making ethical decisions, general intelligence, and halting urges happen. These together will be the basics of creating a worldview in which students see their everyday lives. 

Who they are and what they believe as adults are radically shaped during these middle school years. As parents, we hope our students have a worldview leading them to health, joy, and success. This is where the teachings of Jesus come in. 

Jesus' teachings, by design, shape our worldviews. Jesus taught us as much about how to think as he did what to think. However, translating the teaching' of Jesus to a 12-year-old is not without its challenges. 

This is where the environment at Collide focuses the entirety of its time on unpacking truths of the Bible in ways that even 5th graders can understand. A place where students can process the information they see and hear from friends at school and compare it to the truths of Jesus that they learned on the weekend.

4. They'll Grow Closer to Jesus

A sad but healthy reality for every parent is that someday their influence and time with their child will decrease. Children eventually head out on their own and carry with them what we have instilled. The most critical gift we can give our children is a vibrant and growing faith as well as a relationship with Jesus. 

Their faith will protect them when life grows hard and discontented. Their relationships with Jesus will encourage them in times of joy and sorrow. With a good foundation, the most significant person in their lives will forever be Jesus. Jesus' influence can continue to increase even when ours diminishes. 

Jesus summarized the importance of this relationship in John 15:4-5 saying "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. "Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me, you can do nothing.

Each week the goal of Collide is to focus on helping students recognize and embrace and develop that relationship with Jesus.

The middle school years will fly by. Our hope and prayer are that you will allow us at LCBC to join you on this critical journey and support you and your middle schooler.

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If you're interested in other resources for your new middle schooler, check out:

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LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ, and we're one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania with a mission to introduce people to Jesus and together fully follow him. To learn more about LCBC’s Student Ministry and how your student in Grades 5-12 can get involved, visit LCBCchurch.com/Students. 

Find the closest Collide environment location to you. We can’t wait to connect with you!

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