Middle schoolers are excited, full of energy, creative, and loud! That’s why we love ’em, right? That’s who they are and how they are wired. So are your environments and programs electrifying the experience for them?
For me, I think they should… I think they need to. If we are going to reach this generation, then we should be creating environments where students want to be and where they want to bring their friends. We have the honor to think through the details and be creative in order to make it happen. Because focusing on details and creativity can lead to an electrifying experience.
Electricity runs through wires that are connected together, transferring energy back and forth, thus creating an electrical current. Think about that in terms of your environment. To create an electrifying experience, whether you have a small crew or a large group of students, help your middle schoolers connect with others. Many of us think about the program from start time to end time and that’s it, but the opportunities for connection can start well before that. From the moment they walk in the door, what kind of experience do you offer? Is it easy for them to get connected to others?
Recruit a team of greeters! Make a great impression. Check-in systems at the door allow you to make connections outside of your programs, and it brings comfort to parents, too.
Games are another great way for students to connect with each other. The more students connect, the more the electricity will build. 4 Square, Ninja, or Spikeball, are all great game ideas to help build electricity and connect your students with each other and with your leaders.
TRANSFER THE ELECTRICITY
The energy created during the connection needs to transfer back and forth. To help the electricity to flow, think about how you transition students from the pre-service connection time into your actual program, and again how you transition them from one portion of your program to another.
Videos can be your best friend. They can help transfer energy from one point to another, they can also be used to control the crowd and bring down the energy in the room, when needed. Use videos as the wire to transfer energy from one segment to another.
Transitions can make or break the flow of your environment, so spend time thinking through all possible transitions. A good transition is noticed as much as wires between telephone poles, however when a bad transition happens everyone notices.
KEEP THE CURRENT FLOWING
When your environment is electric, the current is flowing. Everyone knows it and feels it. It becomes exciting and irresistible! This is the time to maximize that experience.
A great way to keep the electricity of your environment flowing, even when your programs end, is social media. Your ministry can take photos or create graphics to share later. Or, better yet, have your students take photos and share them (Instagram is a great thing).
When students give their seal of approval to something your ministry has created for them, they will take photos and share it. This allows them to connect with more of their friends (even their unchurched friends) about their experience, which allows the current to flow farther than your program and become part of their world.
When your environments are electrifying, they will talk about their experiences and bring their friends to experience it with them.