If you’ve ever talked to me or Kenny before, chances are, you already know that we’re a little bit obsessed with Middle School Ministry. Because, well… middle schoolers are awesome. And insane. And our favorite.

And they’re also super interesting. 

Seriously. Middle schoolers are fascinating. The preteen and early teen years are a crazy time of change and transition and developmental advances, which (for both middle schoolers and the adults who are trying to influence them) is both pretty cool and also a little bit terrifying.

And as middle schoolers struggle to navigate these years of growth and transition, one of the most confusing, important, emotional, exciting, and stressful things they will deal with is, without a doubt, the issue of love & dating.

We recently embarked on a 3-week teaching series with our students about this very topic. And as we strategized about how to deal with this super important topic, we knew we wanted to make sure we were doing our very best to address our students’ biggest needs and questions. We had some ideas about what we thought they needed to hear about love and dating, of course, but we couldn’t help but wonder… Are we really being helpful? Is this content relevant to what they’re dealing with? Are we addressing the questions our students are actually asking about love and dating? 

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We weren’t sure. So we decided… if we really wanted to know what our students are wondering about love & dating… we should probably just ask them.

So we set up a really high-tech and complicated anonymous question-and-answer system.

(Just kidding. It was a Dubble Bubble bucket and some index cards. And a student labeled it with that fancy little sign when we weren’t looking.)

We let them anonymously ask anything and everything they wanted.

And we learned a lot – about middle schoolers’ brains, about the things they struggle with, about their biggest concerns, and about how they view love and relationships. So, today, we wanted to share it with you. Here’s what our students asked…

WHAT MIDDLE SCHOOLERS WANT TO KNOW…

ABOUT DATING IN MIDDLE SCHOOL

  • How do you ask someone out?
  • Is dating a sin?
  • Does God want me to date?
  • How do I know if a boy/girl likes me?
  • How old should you be when you start dating?
  • What’s the limit of people you should date?
  • How do you say no when a boy asks you out – without being mean?
  • How do I decide who I should date?
  • What do I do if Justin Bieber asks me out?
  • My boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t go to church or believe in God. Should I break up with them?
  • Why is dating so hard to resist?
  • Are boyfriends/girlfriends overrated?

ABOUT SELF-WORTH

  • How do you know if you’re good enough for the person you like?
  • Why do my friends feel like they need to be dating someone to be cool?
  • What do I do if I really like a boy, but he says he will only go out with me if I kiss him?
  • Sometimes I feel like I need to act a certain way, or be someone different, to get a guy/girl’s attention – is that bad?

ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS

  • What are some good qualities we should look for in a boy/girl?
  • Should you date one of your friends?
  • What’s it called if I like cookies more than girls?
  • What are some standards you would recommend having in your relationships?
  • How do you know when you’re in a serious relationship?
  • What does a good relationship look like?
  • Is it bad to not save your first kiss for your husband/wife?
  • What’s it like to fall in love?
  • Why does God make us wait so long?
  • Why does the Bible say it’s bad to lose our virginity when we’re not married?
  • Why does God say it’s “sexually immoral” or whatever to to be with more than one person?

ABOUT MARRIAGE (& DIVORCE)

  • How old should you be when you get married?
  • Why is marriage important?
  • What does a good marriage look like?
  • Why do divorces happen?

 

We’ve already made observations and drawn conclusions of our own from the questions our students asked. But today we’re wondering…

What conclusions would you draw from these questions about the middle school mind? About the culture that is shaping them? About their perspective and underlying assumptions about love and dating? And, most importantly, what implications does this have for us, as ministry leaders?