Where do 6th graders belong?

Where do they belong?!

6th Graders in the life of Apex Student Ministry

Joe Mayes

Mount Pleasant Baptist Church

Vision & Philosophy- It is our vision and philosophy to continue moving towards a separate middle school and high school ministry under the umbrella of our student ministry. We believe this will be most effective in ministering to students, effectively equipping them, and reaching more students in our community.

How do 6th graders really fit in student ministry? Should 6th graders be in children’s ministry instead? If 6th graders are in student ministry, are we creating a safe environment for both 6th and 12th graders? Will we start losing students if 6th graders are involved in children’s or student ministry?

These are questions that have been around since student ministry began, and we’re still dealing with these issues today. Although there are differing views on these questions, we believe Mount Pleasant Baptist Church can create a fair and balanced approach to seeing 6th graders in the life of Apex Student Ministry.

First, across our community, 6th graders are in middle school, where they are often with 7th and 8th graders.  We recognize the diversity between high school and middle school students, along with the difference between a 6th grader and an 8th grader. Being in 6th grade is an awkward stage of life. A 6th grader probably feels too mature to be with 1st graders, but also too young to be with 12th graders. We are trying to create an environment here that will allow 6th graders to not be overwhelmed by student ministry, but rather accepted and comfortable.

Over the past year, our student ministry has been implementing a strategic plan to separate middle school and High school students during teaching times. We have fully made that transition, both on Sundays, Wednesday’s, and for most of our events. There are very definitive reasons we have decided to allow 6th graders to be a part of student ministry moving forward.


  1. Most of our student ministry programs and events will not be all inclusive: middle and high school. This has been the goal over the past 4 years that I have been Student Pastor at Mount Pleasant. We understand since often times 6th graders do not belong in large group teaching settings with 12th graders. Although there will be some events that will be all inclusive, most of them will be geared towards high school or middle school students. Those that are combined will probably have limited teaching together and more age appropriate teaching. Because of team we have put in place (Joe Mayes, Amy Meadows, Luke Southall, Danielle Southall, & Chris Hendricks) we are just now beginning a specific middle school ministry that is under the umbrella of our student ministry. God has blessed us with people, who love our students, and have done a fantastic job building relationships and teaching middle school students.
  2. 6th Graders are in middle school in our school corporation. The school corporation should not and does not dictate how the church is run, but it has influence on how 6th graders feel in church. We believe that it is healthy for 6th graders to go to church with the same kids they are going to school with. Students begin to feel that despite their age they are taught like a child within the church if they stay with children’s ministry. Just like it’s hard to teach to 12th and 6th graders, it is equally as hard to teach to 6th and 1st graders. This grade seems to make an easier transition when the school and church are making the same transition together. Also, let’s not downplay the fact that most students in 6th grade will be exposed to things that are more healthy to deal with at a student ministry level.
  3.  6th Graders should be beginning to own their own faith. In middle school, students will begin to be tested in their faith.  We do not downplay that happening before middle school, but it becomes more of a burden moving forward. Student ministry is more designed to teach students what it looks like to own their faith. We want them to be prepared to give answers to questions that they are asked about God. We believe that it is necessary for students to know what they personally believe about God. This becomes a fundamental point in making sure students stay involved in church through middle school, high school, and college.
  4. High school students (9th-12th) should be mentoring middle school students (6th-8th). Part of our goal is that those who are in high school would be ministering to our 6th graders, providing someone to look up to. Hopefully, our high school students are actively serving in the children’s ministry for the sake of building relationships with those who will be coming into our student ministry.

What will this look like for Apex Student Ministry at Mount Pleasant?

  • ELEVATE- Our Wednesday night worship service for students (ELEVATE) will stay very similar. Our meal/fellowship, games, welcome, and worship will all be together. During the teaching time, we will separate between middle school and high school. Although the same topic will be covered, the teaching will be directed towards the specific age group that is being addressed. This allows us to be under the same student ministry, while ensuring that the needs of different grades/ages are met.
  • Sunday School- Our Sunday school will stay the same and we’ll continue to evaluate how we can improve this structure. All students meet in the student center for welcome and announcements, before breaking off into their specific grades for the lesson. We still want to make the first few months smoother for the group that’s coming into student ministry in September.
  • College Students- We understand a big question is about college students. Where do they fit in? It is our opinion that on Sunday mornings college students need to be in the College & Career (Young Adults) Sunday school class. On Wednesday nights, we’re always looking for leaders that are willing to build Christ-centered relationships. Therefore, if college students are willing to follow our guidelines for leadership then we’re willing to allow them to serve. With that being said, college students must realize that ELEVATE is not for them, but it gives them an opportunity to serve.
  • Transition- We recognize the need for a better transition into student ministry. Realizing that ministry transition is not an event, but rather a process, we will do 1 or 2 events (spring or summer) that will include 5th graders (and possibly 6th graders) in order to get them acquainted with the student pastor, leaders, and current students. Also, we will strategically make a big deal about them moving up into our ministry in September every year.
  • New Brand & Logo- It’s our desire for the middle school ministry to have their own identity. With that said, we will create them their own logo and branding so they feel like the two groups are separate (to some degree).

 What would our events possibly look like?

MS Events

HS Events


Scaremare (Fall)

Judgment House (Fall)

Disciple Now

Christian Concert

Christian Concert

Winter Blast


Theme Park

Summer Fun Activities


Summer Camp


Mission Trip- DC?

HS Missions- WC?



*This is subject to change and after each event we will ask 3 important questions:

1. What went well and didn’t go well?

2. What can we improve on?

3. Will we do it the same way next year?

Feedback- We are ALWAYS wanting feedback from parents about how we can more effectively make our student ministry experience and events better. Please feel free to email Joe Mayes (joe.mayes@mpbclife.com) or Amy Meadows (amy.meadows@mpbclife.com) if you have any suggestions, comments, or thoughts on improving our transition or overall ministry experience.

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