Why I’m Done Blogging About Middle School Boys

I am done writing new posts about middle school boys at joebudish.com.

“Why, Joe?”

Life has seasons. I sense that this season of blogging has ended.

This is how a spazzy middle school boy waves goodbye.

“Can you say more about that?”

It’s been a wonderful 3+ plus years on this blog but my enthusiasm for writing has waned recently. I began struggling to generate ideas for new high-quality posts. I could probably continue making mediocre posts on an inconsistent basis, but that’s not how I roll. If I can’t do it well and do it consistently, I’d prefer to not do it—especially because blogging requires a big time investment for me.

“Does this mean you no longer feel passionate about middle school ministry?”

I love middle school ministry! Middle school boys are still some of my favorite people in the world.

“Are you moving or changing jobs?”

No. I have lots of anticipation as I begin my fifth year of middle school ministry at Valley Church in West Des Moines, IA. I’ve probably never been more excited about the potential for the ministry that I lead!

“What will happen to joebudish.com and all the content that you’ve posted?”

I won’t make any significant changes to the website for now. All the posts I’ve made will be available for readers to view; I just won’t be updating or changing the site. I invite you to continue sharing content from this site with friends and family members.

“Is there anything you want to say to me, one of your supportive blog readers?”

I’m glad you asked! Thank you for supporting me by reading, commenting on, and sharing my posts. You have all encouraged me significantly. Thank you to the handful of blog readers who wrote guest posts. If this blog has positively informed, equipped, or encouraged you, then praise God! He created middle school boys, he is responsible for my ability to connect with those boys, and he enabled me to share my thoughts with you. Even though I’m moving on from this blog I remain committed to bringing him glory in every way possible.

The Dark Side of Middle School Boy Culture

What is “middle school boy culture?” It’s the unspoken norms and rules that govern what is cool, popular, and acceptable for 11- to 14-year-old boys. After 7 years of being in middle school ministry I have developed a pretty good understanding of this particular culture.

Photo courtesy of Dollar Photo Club/rimmdream

This culture values athleticism, self-confidence, independence, and extraversion, among other things. When you combine those elements it means middle school boy culture highlights boys who are outspoken, bold, talkative, funny, spazzy, and generally silly. There is nothing inherently wrong with a boy acting that way, but the problem is not all middle school boys are like that.

Why Instagram Is Bad For Middle Schoolers

I entered adulthood during the social media revolution. Facebook was just getting started when I started college and within a few years it seemed like everyone was on it. Fast-forward less than 10 years and networks like Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are popular among people of all ages.

The middle school students in my ministry do not use Facebook—Instagram is clearly their top social media choice. If you want to interact with middle schoolers in the digital world, Instagram is the place to do it right now. And while Instagram is a fun place to visually chronicle your life, a mom recently highlighted one of its significant drawbacks.

The Biggest Temptation For Middle School Boys

I entered middle school in the fall of 1999. During the first few days of school I could tell that a lot of the rules had changed—rules like how you should dress, how you should act, and how much gel you should put in your hair. I was caught off-guard by all the changes. I felt like everybody else had been clued into some insider information over the summer that, for whatever reason, had not made its way to me quite yet.

Photo courtesy of Dollar Photo Club/Gelpi

The biggest change of all was the rules about what you could and couldn’t say. From the very first day of 6th grade I observed that kids swore a lot. It was shocked and so naïve. I was confounded by kids who never swore in 5th grade and then came into 6th grade using four-letter words like they were going out of style.

Guest Post: A Non-Moral Issue Is a Non-Issue

This is not officially a guest post because I (Joe) am the author. However, the initial idea and specific insights you are about to read come from an interview I did with Josh Denhart, who is a close ministry friend. As a former High School chemistry teacher, Josh melded his love for science and Christ, creating The Amazing Chemistry Show, a traveling gospel-centered stage show with fire, explosions and foam. Carrying this ministry of chemistry even further, Josh created Science VBS, an internationally celebrated Vacation Bible School curriculum. Josh’s passion for family ministry is expressed through Science Devotions @ Home, a resource equipping moms and dads to be the primary spiritual leader in their homes.

My friend Josh told me a story about some of his friends who were married and had a middle school-aged son. Around 7th grade the boy decided to “express himself” by making some strange stylistic choices. He grew out his hair until it was a humongous Afro. He also wore pants with one of the legs cut off at the knee. He called them “ports,” which is what you get when you combine the words “pants” and “shorts.”

Photo courtesy of Dollar Photo Club/olly

If you can imagine, the boy looked ridiculous to anyone who had even an ounce of fashion sense and social grace. The boy’s parents were concerned. Why did he choose to have such wild hair and silly-looking pants? Was this a sign of worse things to come? Josh, who was not yet a parent himself, looked on with interest to see how his friends would handle the situation with their son.

20 Life Lessons from a 12-Year-Old Boy

What goes through the mind of a 12-year-old boy? What’s important to him? What’s unimportant to him?

Photo courtesy of Dollar Photo Club/SergiyN

This is my attempt to get inside his mind. It’s a combination of my recollection from growing up and my observations from working with middle schoolers. Here’s what I think a 12-year-old boy would say if you asked him to share life lessons that are important to him:

My Experience Watching “Frozen” with 8th Grade Boys and Girls

I wrote this post a few years ago. The 8th grade students I reference are now high school upperclassmen, but the article’s main idea is timeless.
This past summer the 8th grade girls in my ministry could not understand how I had not yet seen the movie Frozen. One girl decided it was time for me to see it so she got permission from her dad to host a Frozen viewing party at her house.

Photo courtesy of Dollar Photo Club/Pavel Losevsky

It turned out to be a mini-youth group event. The girl invited a few 8th grade boys and girls, a female leader, and myself, in addition to her parents who were obligatory invites.

A Proven Way to Have Awesome Conversations with Middle School Boys

One time during a ministry event I was hiking through the woods with a group of middle school boys. The sky was clear, the temperature was perfect, and there were no bugs. It was a fun middle school ministry moment. But something else about the moment made it particularly exceptional.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com/Diego Cervo

The boys in my group were talking! They were jabbering away— completely unprovoked. I didn’t have to do any work to sustain the conversation. I said a few things here and there but mostly marveled at observing 12 year-olds attempt to articulate their thoughts.

How To Help Teenagers Who Question Their Faith

Teenagers by nature will push the envelope. In the process of defining their identity they may resist family rules, try a new hairdo, wear clothes they wouldn’t have dreamed about wearing a few years ago, and listen to music they know drives their parents crazy.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com/Ilike

Parents valiantly endure this defiance and can usually find a happy middle ground between needing to control every aspect of their teenagers’ lives and providing their kids the freedom to make their own choices. But there is one type of rebellion that is particularly frightening and arresting for parents of teens.

Fireworks Safety Tips

The National Council on Fireworks Safety

Since it’s that time of year and since I once was a teenager and understand how foolish boys can be with fireworks…