Jr. High -

Dodgeball moments reveal deeper meanings at MIX —

By Becca Haines

Created on 09/25/2018

To the common bystander, it might seem like a carefree dodgeball tournament … but to youth leaders, students and MIX event staff, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Throughout the MIX conference, middle school students find ample opportunities to compete with their peers but also find unique ways to put into play Biblical lessons they’ve taken to heart that week. Someone who noticed this right away was Eli Bayless, student pastor with Riverlawn Christian Church from Wichita, Kansas. Between cheering for his team of girls, dubbed the “Unique Unicorns,” he shared something special.


“There’s another church here from our area,” he said. “It’s a pretty small church and they didn’t have enough girls for the dodgeball tournament – so we had two of our girls play with them so they could be a part of it. That was awesome. Seeing our kids excited to be a part of that – because they’re not on our team and so that would have been points for a different team – but they recognized that it was bigger than all that. It was great.”


Before the championship game, another cool moment happened for Zachary Wharton – a middle schooler with Reliance Community Church from Wichita, Kansas. MIX attendees in Oklahoma City came to know Wharton as “Opera Man,” because he was handed the microphone and he sang the National Anthem for the crowd.


“I said, ‘That is the coolest spontaneous thing ever!’” said Wharton’s youth pastor, Matt Lowry. “He’s shy in moments and other moments he’s extremely bold. That was awesome! What’s cool is giving him a chance to get out of his shell, love on people and watch people love on him … We love MIX. I just love that it engages the students really well by mixing it up to the worship to bringing them into the message and then – more than anything as a youth pastor – it allows me to invest in the students and not think about having to plan everything, or program everything.”