Middle School Mission Week. Picture it. A young girl who has just finished 6th grade commits the first week of her summer to feed, clothe, and provide hope for those in downtown Oklahoma City. Today commences our Middle School Mission Week. This week is about serving our neighbors in the Oklahoma City area. It is an opportunity for middle schoolers to get out of their comfort zones and have a missional mindset. This event defines the summer ahead and evokes a passion for our community.
      On a mission. This is the first event of the summer for our youth group and recently promoted 6th graders. What better way to mark one’s time in a new ministry by expanding the horizons of the people you serve? It sets the tone for our ministry in service and passion for our neighbors. Being missional, or “on a mission” isn’t a concept for going to foreign countries alone. Becoming missional and intentional in one’s life begins with the people at home and in your city. What good is a church if it’s not serving its surrounding community? As we continue to disciple our students, we want them to recognize that every day is an opportunity for ministry. Whenever they step out of the door they are the “in-breaking” of God in others’ lives.
      Intentional high schoolersOne of my favorite things about our summer programs is that we encourage high schoolers to be intentional. In fact, we even name them “intentional high schoolers.” Ya, we’re that creative. Students are more willing to learn from others of their own peer and age group. High schoolers, when acting intentional, have a greater chance of mentoring to younger students. This creates a cyclical nature for discipleship. As one mentors to another, that person grows up and does the same for the next generation. What’s better than seeing a 6th grader serve in the inner-city? A high schooler beside her encouraging and being an example of Christ. I am so proud of the high-schoolers we have and their passion for serving the community and our students.
      Being uncomfortable. Last year during MSMW, we had a bit of a miscommunication with a non-profit we were going to work with. It was addressed that the majority of our group was middle schoolers, and a job was picked out for that. We were told to bring gloves and that we were going to work in some kind of community garden. Well… we arrived and our job had switched to clear out houses in a rough part of the neighborhood. Apparently, these houses had been recently repoed by the city. Anyways… the houses had some used needles and explicit magazines. As you could imagine, some of the parents of our younger students weren’t too pleased. I was a bit upset, which shouldn’t shock you. I had communicated our group’s age range, and I wasn’t aware that we weren’t going to be gardening. I didn’t even get to use my impressive green thumb.
      Don’t get me wrong, I still love this organization. I have much admiration for it and will never regret the experience. It allowed our students to become aware of a different context than their own. It got them out of their comfort zones. And in reality, that’s what the mission field is. It’s the ability to become less concerned with yourself and more about others, whether materially or spiritually. This encourages students to venture out of themselves and their safe place. Which, may happen in another country, a repoed house in the inner city, or sitting next to someone on the school bus.