Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve spent time visiting incoming freshmen and their families in their homes. During these visits, I ask teens to reflect on their experience in our junior high ministry. I also share information about our high school ministry with them. As part of this, I ask parents, “What’s one thing you’d change about our junior high ministry?” In answer to this question, parents of boys typically tell me:
“It wouldn’t hurt to put the boys and girls together sometimes.”
This statement is a critique of our small group ministry, which in junior high we separate by gender. When asked, parents will typically elaborate on this critique, saying something about how “It’d help to control the boys if they were around the girls.”
Truthfully, it’s the last part of this critique that’s hard for me to swallow. The point of junior high small groups isn’t control. It’s relational development and faith formation.
In fact, that’s why we switched to same-gendered small groups several years ago. This separation is one that I wholeheartedly believe in, for three main reasons: