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Slide Notes

We have found a creative option for engaging middle schoolers in worship.

This deck was created as a blog post for juniorhighministry.org

It can be found at: http://juniorhighministry.org/youth-group-worship-ideas/
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Interactive Stations

Published on Nov 18, 2015

What started as creative options during the summer for our preteen and middle school ministries has now turned into a popular feature we use throughout the year in our weekend services: interactive worship and reflection stations.



Stations for Middle Schoolers
We have found a creative option for engaging middle schoolers in worship.

This deck was created as a blog post for juniorhighministry.org

It can be found at: http://juniorhighministry.org/youth-group-worship-ideas/
Photo by mugley


VACATION - even for small group leaders
In the course of a typical year, our adult leaders serve during our weekend services on a weekly basis. We give them the summer off to provide them an opportunity to take a break and participate in other activities with their peers.

That's great for them, but creates a void in our services where we usually devote a significant amount of time to small groups.

To fill that void, we created interactive stations where students have activities to help them reflect on our study for the day, with options to interact with peers and leaders. (We have a separate team of adult leaders who serve during the weeks when our school year leaders take time off.)
Photo by Hindrik S


opportunities in one service
Originally, we simply had one time after the teaching for these interaction stations. Students could go to any one or any combination of stations. Ten minutes ended up being too long for many students. So we shrunk the time to five minutes.

Then, through a conversation with another youth pastor, we decided to break up our teaching into 2-3 smaller sections. Each one is followed by a 5-minute interaction station time. Sometimes we provide different stations for each time. Other times the same stations are offered each time.
Photo by ®DS


There doesn't have to be a perfect 4-way split, but we have found it good to have a healthy mix of serious stations and fun stations, of stations where students have an activity to do on their own and others where they work with a partner or small group.


Let me share with you a few examples of stations we have used or are planning to use soon.

We have moved from using these just in the summer to using them throughout the year as an alternative to small group times.


draw, write, erase, repeat
Whether you have some cheap little dry erase boards from your local store or a wall painted with Idea Paint, dry erase markers allow students to write words, draw pictures, erase, and repeat!

They can do this individually. They can also work together or modify someone else's work.

I highly encourage using a camera and an app like Evernote to capture these writings and images, (after students are gone), if they are things you want to - and are appropriate - to keep for later.
Photo by ariel jatib


with crayons, markers & colored pencils
A stack of blank paper and a collection of writing utensils bring out the artist in many middle schoolers.

We just use reams of plain white paper. Then we set out cups with colored pencils, markers and even crayons.

Encouraging students to draw people, scenes or images in response to a teaching helps them reflect differently than if they are writing words. And for students who are more visual learners, you are tapping into their sweet spot.
Photo by rosswebsdale


solo, with peers or leaders
Having a space for students to kneel and pray can be a powerful experience for a middle schooler whose prayers have mostly been in a sitting position.

This is also a great opportunity to have students pray with and for each each other and have leaders around who can pray for and with students.
Photo by Connor Tarter


mix up translations - even comics!
If you have a short passage you have taught from, you can provide a variety of Bibles with different translations for the students to read. Sometimes reading the same thing in different ways helps them connect and understand it better.

You could also print out passages with the translation reference and have those available on paper or cardstock for students to read. Websites like biblegateway.com are great sources for a variety of translations.

With this age group, I also encourage comic-style Bibles. The Action Bible is a full Bible in comic form with powerful visuals. There are several Manga style Bibles available as well. This might just be the version students need to help them really understand what is going on.
Photo by .wel.


confidential or open sharing
If you have a time you want to allow students to share something confidential, consider Post-It Notes. Have them write on the back side so when they stick it to the table, what they wrote is hidden.

You can also switch things around and encourage open sharing. Have students write on a Post-It Note something to thank God for or something they need God's help with. Then, when another students reads it and prays for that person, they initial the note. When the time is done, students can go back and take their note, seeing that they have been prayed for. (It helps to have leaders look over these notes and pray for anyone who might have been missed.)
Photo by 3oheme


playing or praying with words
Magnetic word tiles are found everywhere from classrooms to coffee shops to living rooms. With something as simple as a cookie sheet, metal door, old filing cabinet or magnetic dry erase board, you have a surface perfect for these tiles.

You can simply allow students to create little sentences, poems or stories.

You can have them come up with a tweetable summary of the teaching.

You can have them create their own psalm or worship lyrics.

Sometimes these are most effective when you encourage them to be used in silly or absurd ways. Then you can switch to the serious use.
Photo by designsbykari


to build towers & conversations
It may sound very childish, but one of the favorite stations we have setup uses building blocks. They can be simply colored wooden blocks, Legos, Lincoln Logs, or whatever you have around.

Sometimes, we have students build a structure like their own altar or tower memorial.

Other times the building isn't as important as what happens while students are buliding. Sometimes, if adult leaders sit and build with or alongside students, a relational barrier comes down that helps students have conversations who would otherwise sit in silence.

(And for a cultural connection, you can always call this your Minecraft station.)
Photo by Thomas Hawk


creating & recreating, alone or with friends
Although many parents cringe at the thought of cleaning up Play-Doh, hopefully you are in more middle school friendly facilities.

A table with cans of Play-Doh is a perfect opportunity to allow students to use sculpting as a method for reflecting. This could be done individually or with the help of friends.

There is real value in the tactile experience of working with the Play-Doh. This can be a powerful reminder of our Creator who made us from dust.


one letter at a time
Students are so good at using a variety of methods to communicate in our social media connected world. They can type with their hands and even better with their thumbs. The speed is unbelievable.

So setting up a station with lined paper and pens or pencils where students have to write out each word of each thought, one letter at a time, slows them down.

When this happens, they have to think through things instead of flying through words like a fast-food meal.

They might worry about forgetting something. Encourage them to focus on a few thoughts and think more about really savoring the moment instead of trying to get every thought on paper.
Photo by Rubin Starset


write, draw or . . . build!
Index cards are great for having students put one simple thought down in writing.

It can be a question, observation, exclamation, statement, phrase or word.

The point is to limit it to one per card. Then have a cup or container for students to leave cards they have written on.

You can collect these as anonymous submissions and process them to help evaluate and guide your teaching lesson or series.
Photo by dgray_xplane


help auditory learners really connect
Whether you purchase some simple iPod nono's or collect unwanted old devices from people in the church, you connect those with headphones and you have a listening station.

This can be to listen to an audio version of the Bible text from your teaching like in the Bible Experience.

Or it could be a playlist of songs - from popular songs no matter the band - that connect with the series.

Or it could be worship songs that tie in with the teaching.

The bottom line is that so many students have headphones or earbuds in. Just imagine what your lesson would be like if you controlled what they listened to . . . even if only for 5 minutes!


endless possibilities
There is an app for almost everything these days.

If you are able to purchase or get donated a few tablets like iPads, you can load them with specific apps to use with your lesson.

The key here is knowing the privacy and restrictions to your device and having an adult to oversee this station to make sure students use the app or apps they are supposed to.

You could use Bible apps to help them learn how to use tools that can help them grow in their faith at home.

Or it could be a way to show specific videos on your own Vimeo account.

Or it could be a Keynote, Haiku Deck or Prezi presentation for students to walk through at their own pace on the device.
Photo by LJR.MIKE


what have you tried or will you try?
Now it's up to you!

What interactive stations have you used with students?

Or what interactive stations are you dreaming up that I've never considered?

Share with us! If it helps students connect with your teaching and with your church community, we could all benefit from being able to implement that in our own ministries.
Photo by mikecogh