Middle School

Our goal is to provide an open atmosphere where students can know that they matter. Where students can be honest, open, heard, and accepted. We not only want to teach the way of Jesus to our young people, we want to show them what it looks like in their world with support, care and encouragement. 

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Youth News

Jeff  Message from Jeff

December 17, 2019

Have 1 Minute to Read? - Upcoming Detail

Current Sunday Series: ???
 - We'll spend the next Sunday talking with our middle schoolers about what they'd like to do this winter.

Christmas Eve Pageant 12/24, 5:00pm
- We're welcoming any middle schoolers to participate in our simple Christmas Eve pageant in a variety or roles.
- Talk to Bethany or me for more details

 Save the dates:
 - RECLAIM Weekend: 2/21 - 2/23

Have 4 Minutes to Read? - Talking About Christmas

"Is any of this stuff real?"  That may be the question you get this Christmas season. As middle schoolers start to work out a faith journey that will be unique to themselves questions start to pop up that we aren't always prepared for. Just think of all the leaps of faith told in the Christmas story:

     - Angels appearing
     - Special stars being hung in the sky
     - A virgin birth

That last one is usually the one that tips off inquiring minds. After all, they've all had "the talk" by now either by you, their school, or (gulp) their friends. So, they know this is not how science works. What if instead of changing the topic or stammering through a half-baked answer you're thinking up on the spot you took this opportunity to have a "grown up" conversation about faith, spirituality, and the Christmas story? After all, the lie we all told them about Santa Claus has been  out of the bag for some time now.  Is this story a lie also?

It's hard to find balance between wonder and specificity, between skepticism and hope, between the big picture and the details. There are very smart and very good people that believe myriad things about the Christmas story. You might want to direct your children to considering that.

One resource I'll point you to is by The Bible Project. We use their content every summer to great acclaim by our middle schoolers. Below is a 4 minute video spot. Your could use this video to talk about the particulars of Christmas. Or you could use it to talk about the big picture of what's being portrayed here, that God often uses the unexpected to remind us of our equal value.

Have 8 Minutes to Read and Watch? - The Birth of Jesus - Gospel of Luke Ch. 1-2


Have 3 Minutes to Read? - Why Don't We Teach Anything?

One of the best features of the Marin Interfaith Youth Group Meet Up is that there is no teaching. There are two main benefits to this. One is that our young people have been sitting in classes all week then again on the weekend at their congregations and we want them to, yet again, sit and listen attentively as someone many of them won't know shares a lesson with them. What percentage of these youth will that lesson be remembered by?

Then again, what if we took that time (because time is of the essence, we can't stay there forever) and used it towards a service project that all of them are passionate about? After all, the point of the Marin Interfaith Youth Group Meet Up is to help normalize relationships between faith communities. Playing icebreakers together introduces them to each other in a fun way. Singing songs like Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift bring us together by their harmonies and hooks that we all know. Playing an upfront game gives us all a chance to laugh with each other. Serving together, if only for 30 minutes, allows us to work together on a common task. Working together is a much better conduit to getting to know one another than sitting quietly while somebody else talks.

Going even deeper and behind the scenes, one of the things that prevents many faith communities from getting involved is the apprehension about what somebody else might say from an upfront role. Unfortunately, many youth groups only feel comfortable when one of their own is the teacher. "We'd love to have you come to your youth group," but, "we're not comfortable sitting in yours." When we take the microphone away from each other we allow the youth themselves to be the ones talking..to each other! And that's what these are all about.

We don't have to tell our youth that inclusivity and interfaith relationships are important. They know that. We just have to show them what they look like.

Have 7 Minutes to Read? - Teaching Grace in the Home

One of the central tenets of our faith that may differ from others is the idea that we don't really do anything to reach God. Rather, God comes to us. Regardless of how "religious" we are or how much we know about the Bible. Despite the mess we make of own lives and others, despite how often we disappoint ourselves or others, we are always loved. Through the Holy Spirit, God's presence is with us always. Even more, God wants to be there with us especially in the messiness.

We call this grace.

You and I might be able to appreciate the grace God gives. That we are loved by something so holy regardless of what we do or don't do, but it may be hard to instill this sort of thing in the heart (not just the mind) of a young person. We all know that our faith can't solely be taught. It has to be experienced.

So how do we experience it in the home?

Just say, "I'm sorry" to your teenager more. That's a great starting place.

"I'm sorry for the tone of voice I used when I asked you about your homework."
"I'm sorry that I misunderstood the conflict you were having with your brother and jumped to an unfair conclusion."
"I'm sorry that I wasn't sensitive enough to how tired you were from soccer."

In today's world our youth feel extraordinary pressures from all kinds of angles. We want them to know that their family is a safe place. And we hope that they are an example of grace to others.

If you want to make your home a hub of grace, try the following:

1. Keep your personal antennae up for times when your own fatigue causes you to speak unkindly to your kids.
2. when you feel like you've wronged your kids, tell them that you're sorry and ask for their forgiveness. Say, "Is that okay?" or "Does that make sense?"
3. Make sure you are quick to extend forgiveness to your kids when they need to do the same.

Chin up,
Jeff Shankle                                                                 

Coming Events
"God's Doors - The Fellowship Project" - 10 weeks to something deeper than friendship

With middle school comes the introduction of adolescent drama to their lives. "Will so and so be there?" "Did you see them?" "He/She's trying to DM."

What if our youth could find something different and/or (dare we say) better than friend groups, and cliques? Fellowship is a part of our faith heritage that stretches back to the beginning. What did fishermen, accountants, teachers, and others of different background have in common other than a commitment to God and each other? It was their commitment to each other and to living out the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. They might not have been bffs, but they knew each other and found support and accountability from one another.

Fellowship is something different from friendship. It is knowing, this group of people (wherever they may be), will always be there fro me. It's when we go beyond tolerance and respect to find real inclusion.

We are very lucky to have at least 8 different friends coming to help us with this project. We also have two field trips listed in bold. We'll finish with a painting project that we think you'll really enjoy. Understanding that you might not be able to make it to everyone , here's a week by week listing so you can plan for the ones that are most appealing to you:

Date Idea Description Special Guest
9/22 What is Fellowship? Fellowship is different from friendship. Friends come and go and while you might not be as close to those you have fellowship with, they're always there.
9/29 Being Present Many people experiencing housing instability create community to care for one another given the unique, constant, and difficult challenges they face. Dimitri Sklavopoulos, Finn Jimenez - guests from our Thursday Hot Lunch program
10/6 Fellowship in Islam A conversation about what works/doesn't work between two youth groups of different faiths. Islamic Center of Mill Valley
10/13 Fellowship @ WPC Learn more about all the activities and priorities that WPC has to build fellowship here. Meme Hurd - Congregational Life
10/20 Your're So Busy Learn how the busy women and men of this area have built fellowship here at WPC WPC Men's and Women's groups: 5 speakers
10/27 Adventure and Shared Experiences Including new people into a fellowship is often times made easier by sharing adventures together. Sailing Trip to Ghiradelli Square
11/3 NOVEMBER BASH no class - join us! November Bash Info
11/10 Fellowship at School Why would a high schooler start a religious club at their high school? And how? Strat Tolmie - Junior at Branson HS, founder of the Religious Affinity Club
11/17 Teamwork Learn how coaches build fellowship amongst teammates in search of common goals. Dave Heneghan - Varsity Girls Basketball Coach, Tam HS, WPC High School leader
11/24 God's Doors* We begin our work on the God's Doors art display
12/1 God's Doors* We continue our work on the God's Doors art display

*To conclude this project our youth will be painting some of the old doors from our renovation. They'll be displayed prominently on Tiburon Blvd with the message "God's Doors are Open to All."We're doing this so our youth can understand that the fellowship they have here is a blessing, it can be a blessing to many people in our community. What a great symbol this will be for all the thousands of cars that pass our church daily!

Parents Corner - Middle School

Middle school can be the most stressful and yet thrilling stage of a young person's journey to adulthood. Middle schoolers are growing in so many ways and are being given new opportunities for both success and trouble. There are 2 things we value that help inform all of what we do as church with middle schoolers:


Relationships - We know that much of what is taught in church can be ambiguous. That's why it is so important for us to have well-equipped and screened volunteer adult leaders who spend time with middle schoolers in their world.  So while we offer strong programs on Sunday mornings and at other times, what drives our focus is the time we get to spend with middle schoolers over a burger and fries, at a movie, or simply cheering them on at the events that they're involved in. We not only want to teach the way of Jesus to our young people, we want to show them what it looks like in their world with support, care, and encouragement.


Service - We think middle schoolers have gifts and passions that should be used in the church and the community. Our middle schoolers do everything from write material for our worship services that create whole interactive festivals to commemorate certain parts of the year. With so much creativity and energy our middle schoolers are very much an integral part of the entire worshipping community of Westminster.  They are also involved in the community through various service projects that take place throughout the year and an annual Spring Break mission trip. 
Serving Others - Middle School
Service projects for middle schoolers take place throughout the year. All are invited to participate. 


Please check with Jeff for Serving Others activities.