What are we about?
We believe middle school students are important to God, that He has wonderful plans for their lives, and that they can accomplish great things for Him! We have large group meetings where students can hear quality Bible teachings and smaller meetings where they can build great friendships in a spiritual community. For more information, click to learn more about our meetings, our wonderful staff, and Dwell's statement of faith.
What do we teach at the big meetings and cell groups?
Most large and small meetings will be teaching through books of the Bible, in addition to topical studies relevant to middle schoolers. Here are teaching outlines available to cell leaders to help them prepare their teachings.
Welcoming Students with Disabilities
See our Access Ministries page for more information about serving and equipping people with special needs. In Middle School Ministry in particular, we want to do everything we can to incorporate students with disabilities into our cell groups, believing that "God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired" (1 Corinthians 12:18). The goal is to fully include all students as much as possible. Each case is unique, so we encourage home group leaders and parents to contact us to discuss the opportunities and needs germane to specific students.
About our Ministries:
All throughout the year, we spend hundreds of hours recruiting leaders from within our church for middle school work. This is no easy task, especially in a cell-based church, like Dwell, where potential youth workers are already busy serving in their college or adult groups. If someone is interested in volunteering in Middle School Ministry, they fill out an application and discuss with one of their home church leaders to receive a reference. We then evaluate the application, check the reference, perform a background check, and interview the applicant. We will then place them in a cell group or as a volunteer at one of our big meetings.
How do we train and equip our leaders?
We only accept applicants who have the spiritual and relational maturity to offer true spiritual leadership to the students. This means we want the kind of leaders who are already doing the things we hope our students will do (spending regular time with God, serving others, sharing their faith, maintaining healthy friendships, and exercising self-control). This is the kind of leader we seek. However, since working with middle schoolers presents unique challenges, we offer ongoing coaching and training to all leaders through classes, written resources, and frequent communication with staff members.
Policies for volunteers
To insure the safety of our youth and protect our church from liability, we have developed and enforced distinct policies for our youth workers. For more information on our policies for youth workers, visit our policy page.
How do we handle student discipline should a problem arise?
Our meetings are fun and exciting, but they must be safe and appropriate as well. It's not always easy to tell when something is out of line, so we have developed clear policies regarding discipline and we regularly coach leaders about behavior issues large and small. Discipline is a way that we serve the students, by helping the offender course correct and by protecting students from the actions of other students. It is done in the context of God's grace. We train our leaders to accept all students and strive to show them grace even in the midst of behavioral issues. We also emphasize that students' spiritual maturity and interest vary greatly, making a one-size-fits-all approach unworkable. Ultimately, we teach our leaders to address student behaviors in a way that points them to God's love (we accept you as you are) and God's truth (this needs to change and here's why).
Actions taken by students that result in disciplinary measures usually fall under six categories (see below). Please keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list. We place a value on flexibility when appropriate.
We emphasize fun at our meetings because following God is fun. However, sometimes students take it too far and wind up being disruptive during the meetings, causing distraction away from the Bible teaching. In theses cases, we generally follow some progressive disciplinary steps.
- Ask the student to be quiet, emphasizing that they or their friends will miss something really helpful to them.
- Move their seats, separating the disruptive students from their friends.
- If the student continues disrupting after being moved, they will be asked to leave the meeting and the youth leader will phone the parents/guardians to pick up them up early.
- If, when the student returns the next time, s/he continues the disruptive pattern, they will be asked to sit out for a week or two.
If a student has drugs or alcohol in their possession, we immediately report the incident to their parents and suspend them from meeting attendance for a period of time. In some cases, it may be necessary to call the police as well.
Many times students will want to leave the supervisory presence of youth workers for various reasons. We can't allow this because parents are trusting us to be responsible custodians of their children, and we can't be responsible when they have left the premises. Therefore, students are not permitted to leave the premises during our meetings. If they do leave the premises, we have some progressive disciplinary steps. First, they are given a two week dismissal from the meetings. If they offend again, they will not be permitted to attend for an indefinite period of time.
Arguing and contention is typical during this age and a certain amount should be tolerated. What should not be tolerated is when the fighting and contention begins to affect the overall unity and mission of the group. Even small pockets of division can have a major effect on the group, destroying the collective witness of the Body of Christ. When divisiveness occurs, it must be dealt with firmly, cautiously and with much prayer. Much of our divisions have been remedied by sitting both parties down and mediating the conflict. Resolution usually comes when both parties wind up genuinely owning some portion of problem and apologizing.
Would you send your child to a meeting knowing there's a good chance s/he will get assaulted? Not likely. Parents need to know they are leaving their child in a safe environment. To that end, we don't permit physical fighting in our meetings or events. To head this off, we let our students know the following:
- We don't permit physical fighting
- If they engage in physical fighting, they will be suspended from all of our Middle School programs for an indefinite period of time.
We do not allow sexual contact of any kind during our meetings, and we strive to eliminate the possibility of this occurring. This means no coupling off. If a leader finds a couple who has isolated themselves, the leader explains our policy and reasons. The couple is usually understanding and cooperative when we approach them with sensitivity and firmness.
In addition, the Biblical view of sexuality is continually addressed during our instruction to students. We find that students are fairly receptive when they understand the reasoning behind God's views on this.