I heard this term today in reference to middle schoolers. I was introduced to someone as a middle school pastor and they said, “Oh, you work with ‘pre-people’.” I tried to laugh it off but inside I was fuming. There is so much under the surface of that term. Often it’s used as a jovial jab at the awkwardness of early adolescence, but it reveals a disrespect and dismissal of the age group I love and spend my life with.

I’m no stranger to the general negative attitude toward young teens, but working with middle schoolers is the most rewarding and satisfying vocation I could imagine for my life. I don’t have any plans to “graduate” to be a real pastor anytime soon.

My heart hurts for the millions of middle school aged individuals who feel dismissed and rejected. They are told that they are a nuisance and bother to adults. They aren’t taken seriously. I don’t know why adults don’t see this in the same way that I do. Clearly they are missing out on seeing how amazing these young men and women are.

My heart breaks for the adults who can’t see what I see:
– I see people like Katie Jo, who has a burning desire to tell others about God that she can’t contain.
– Then there is Liam whose heart of compassion leads him to pray for his struggling teacher.
– There is Allegra, who came alive when she got to sing along with worshipping African refugees.
– I can’t forget Hunter who displayed vulnerability when he confessed three weeks ago to his friends that he is sorry for thinking he’s better than other people.

This is just a small sample of the many amazing middle school friends I get to shepherd. They aren’t “pre-people” or “subhumans”. They are Eikons of the living God. If you are in middle school ministry, consider yourself blessed because I believe that you get to serve those who are great in the Kingdom of God. I know I do. If you are reading this as a middle schooler. Remember that you are a treasured daughter or son of God. He wants to use you to do great things for His glory. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. If you are a church leader or other adult, I challenge you to take these young people seriously. Invest in them, care for them and challenge them. They aren’t the church of the future, they are the church of today.