You might ask what a preteen can do in your church. The answer is pretty much everything! You see, we underestimate at times the gifts of preteens in our church. Years ago I started a program in my church called Leaders In Training. It is a common name used in many organizations. I wasn’t trying to be original; I was trying to give a title that fit what we were doing with this age group. Little did I know when I started the journey that I would see the amazing God-given gifts and abilities of these kids. My number one priority was that I wanted them to know how to walk with the Lord. So, we taught them how to have a daily quiet time, and to my surprise, the majority of them got into it and were faithful to spend time in the Word of God daily. Then we began to train them to lead…and they did. What amazed me as I gave them opportunities to serve was that their gifts began to manifest before my eyes. Not a few, but all of them: teaching, administration, helps, mercy, exhortation, service, giving, leadership, and the list goes on and on. When I gave them a chance to minister, ministry became a joy to me. I saw these younger saints glorify Christ with their lives and at the same time grow very rapidly in their faith.
They found purpose and identity in the church as I had never seen before. Yes, they are called tweens, but they don’t have to be placed in a holding pattern until they move into student ministry. They need to find purpose in the church today so that it will ground their faith and sustain them throughout the storms during the student ministry years. Here are a few suggestions for establishing an effective preteen ministry:
- Believe in them. Each preteen in your ministry is unique in God’s eyes. They might be quiet and timid, but when you give them greater challenges, they will step up and do amazing things for the Lord.
- Don’t sideline them. I believe the worst thing you can do with this age group is get trapped in the idea that they are just preteens and you have to protect them. No, you need to challenge them and give them tasks that only God can do through them, not just what they can do on their own. When you do this, it builds and strengthens their faith—it makes their faith REAL.
- Provide a platform for them to minister. Look at your children’s ministry and all the leadership voids or shortages you are likely to have, and then plug your preteens into the ministry. Let them teach children’s church, lead worship, run your sound equipment, take care of administrative tasks, etc. Remember to train them first so that they are fully equipped for success.
Preteen ministry is an exciting experience, and we want you to be successful. Check out our newly revised preteen resource called “L.I.T. (Leaders In Training).” For more than 18 years, God has been using this resource to transform the preteen ministries of countless churches.