by Sean Meade
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a new family comedy based on the first book in the popular series by Jeff Kinney. Diary follows the misadventures of smart mouthed pre-teen Greg Heffley as he navigates the uncharted terrain of life’s scariest institution….middle school.
For Greg, middle school is the opportunity to finally achieve the social recognition he’s always dreamed of. While he’s worried about his “un-cool” friend Rowley and how he’ll fit in, Greg is confident in his own plan to become a “class favorite” and ascend the middle school social ladder. Through a series of poor choices and unfortunate circumstances, Greg finds his plans go awry at every possible moment. His land of opportunity is instead a place rigged with hundreds of social landmines, including jocks, bullies, girls, lunchtime banishment to the cafeteria floor, and the dreaded “cheese touch”.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a smart, funny look into the world of middle school students. It’s a movie that is safe to see with your students, and can be the source of great conversation on identity, making wise choices, and middle school in general.
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is all about Greg’s crazy adventures during his first year of middle school. Break into small groups (no more than three to four people per group) and share a crazy story from your time in middle school. If you don’t have a crazy story of your own to share, then share a story about middle school that you’ve heard from a friend or sibling. After everyone has shared, come back together as a large group and share the craziest stories with the entire group.
2. Have your adult leaders write what “kind” of middle school student they were on a Post-It note. They can put things like: Jock, Nerd, Band-Geek, etc. Without looking at what they’ve written, gather up all of the notes. Now let the students work together to try and determine which note goes with which leader.
In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Greg is convinced that if he can become popular he’ll be able to live the life of his dreams. Greg has an image in his head of who we wants to be when he grows up and he is willing to do anything to get there. He makes poor, selfish decisions that hurt his friends and end up hurting him too—all so that he can “be somebody”.
Greg thinks that his identity is based entirely on his social ranking. God’s word says that our identity is actually based in Jesus Christ. If you’re a Christ-follower, check out what God’s word says about you:
You are God’s Child (John 1:12)
But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God
You are a friend of God (John 15:15)
I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.
You are important (1 Corinthians 3:16)
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
You are empowered to do the right thing (Philippians 4:13)
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Clearly, God’s word shows us that our identity is more than just our social ranking or our circle of friends. While it’s important to make wise decisions, it’s also important to know that we are already significant because God created us and Jesus died for us. We are loved and accepted just as we are, and all students can take comfort in the fact that their identity doesn’t have to be found in the halls of their middle school, because it’s already been established in Christ.
In middle school, identity is everything! Affirm your students and remind them that they are important and they are loved just the way they are. If time permits, tell them some of the reasons you love the time spent with your group of students. Don’t be sarcastic (they might laugh, but really you’re just re-emphasizing their insecurities), just be sincere. Close in prayer, asking God to continually remind them that their identity is found in him.
Sean Meade is the president and founder of Stuck in the Middle, an organization that hosts weekend conferences for junior high students across North America. Sean has worked with junior high students for more than 13 years and can’t imagine doing anything else. He loves working for Stuck in the Middle and enjoys leading the Stuck team as they develop junior high only events, camps, curriculum and other resources.
Sean is a frequent speaker at camps, retreats, Stuck events, Youth Specialties conventions, and other training conferences. In his free time he enjoys performing as half of the improv comedy team “The Big Show” and he loves to cheer on his beloved KU Jayhawks. He currently lives in Wichita, Kan. with his wife, Jill, and their four future junior highers.
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Despite all the challenges the pandemic has presented to youth ministries, it has also created an opportunity to allow youth more involvement in worship. Although youth sunday will look very different this year, it is a great opportunity to empower our youth to be leaders. Youth’s comfort and familiarity with technology make them a great resource for churches who are seeking to move their worship services online for the first time.