In this episode, I talk with Katie Edwards. Katie is the Junior High Pastor at Saddleback Church in California. She shares some great insight on how to understand middle school students, and then how we can help them understand just how much Jesus loves them. Katie walks through the specifics of what they teach, how they train leaders, and how they use what's unique about middle schoolers as they plan their ministry for the year.

Katie Edwards

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Saddleback Church

One Year Anniversary

The One Year Anniversary of the podcast is Tuesday, May 16th. You won't want to miss this episode. Like on Facebook and check your email for giveaways and more info as it approaches. I'll also be doing a special Q&A episode, where I answer a lot of questions that you've sent in throughout the year. If you'd like to submit a question, email me at, send it on Twitter @nickblevins, or click the “Ask a Question” button on the right side of this page to leave a message. I'd love to hear from you!

Links Mentioned in This Episode

Understanding Your Young Teen (book)Mark Oestreicher shares insight into early adolescent development, how cultural changes impact this, and practical advice for parents on how to understand middle school students and lead them

Middle School Ministry (book) – Mark Oestreicher and Scott Rubin's comprehensive guide to connecting with middle schoolers and their parents, and helping them grow

My Faith | My Family | My Friends | My School (book series) – Kurt Johnston and Mark Oestreicher's junior high survival series that helps put readers in the mindset of middle schoolers

It's Just a Phase–So Don't Miss It (book) – Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy walk through the phases of a kid's life, sharing information about development and pointing to what they need most at each stage, allowing parents and leaders to maximize each phase

Orange – Check out Orange's resources for middle school ministry

Changes in the Minds of Middle Schoolers

  1. Transition from concrete thinking to abstract thinking
  2. Desire to make decisions and be independent
  3. Curious to discover their uniqueness
  4. Begin seeking adult faith
  5. Have an energy and excitement without fear

What Middle Schoolers Need From Their Small Group Leader

  1. Fun, which leads to trust, which leads to depth
  2. Affirmation
  3. Daily bite-sized wisdom
  4. Consistent time

Saddleback's 3 Spiritual Arenas

  1. Large Group: Weekend service and summer camp
  2. Small Groups: Meet midweek in homes and engage in relationships and Bible teaching that allow for deeper discipleship
  3. Individual Life: Opportunities for students to make their faith their own through serving, getting baptized, sharing their testimonies, and doing missions

Action Items

  1. Check out the books Katie talked on how to understand middle school students you are leading
  2. Consider sharing the books or small bits of informations with other leaders in your ministry during regular trainings, circle-ups, gatherings, and volunteer events

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Next Episode: Brad Griffin

In the next episode, I interview Brad Griffin of Fuller Youth Institute. Brad and I talk about the book, Growing Young, and dive into some questions about how to apply it practically. We also look at what churches are currently doing to apply the principles in this book,  what's working, and what's not working.