#742 Jr. High.

Tonight church got back to the regular schedule—life after Christmas.

We’re doing a yearlong study with the youth called The Story. It’s definitely the best study we’ve ever found. It’s a survey of the entire Bible from beginning to end (and lasts from August to May) with these really artful videos that play cool music while artists paint to narratives over a time lapse. The students are enthralled every time and they actually put down their phones and pay attention. Afterward, we break into small groups by grade to read through and ask questions about how these things from the past relate to them now in 2012. Hope and I teach the 7th and 8th graders.

They’re vastly outnumbered by the high schoolers, but they don’t mind. I daresay these are some of the most mature and thoughtful students in the whole youth department, actually. Granted, every now and then they get off on tangents about how stupid algebra is or what video game that Bible story reminds them of, but most of the time they are learning and I can see it happen right in front of us. It’s incredible.

Two of our boys are in 7th grade but I swear they’re actually 40 years old. They always pay attention and give collegiate-level answers to the study questions. On their first youth retreat last year, these two asked Ben if it would be alright for them to go to the game room and play chess or cards during quiet time. And that’s actually exactly what they did. Our only two girls are like sisters and are the shy ones of the group, but oddly they’re the first to raise their hands and claim speaking parts in the read-throughs. Even if there are no girl parts available, they quickly volunteer to read guy parts.

Tonight we finished early and they tiptoed into the youth kitchen while the high schoolers were still having their lesson. One of the girls poured herself a glass of Hawaiian Punch, but accidentally spilled it on herself and the floor. The boys immediately grabbed paper towels and quietly began helping her clean up the spill without being asked. They even got wet paper towels to clean up the stickiness afterward. Is this real life?

In short, I LOVE my little junior high group. I was anxious about teaching them at first—imagining uncontrollable rowdiness and immature answers. I got the very opposite of that. I’ll be heartbroken when they get taller and their focus shifts to socializing and moving on to high school.

Mitter—you better be sweet to them.