What Does Acts 1:8 Have to Do with Preteens?

At a former church where I served in Fort Worth, Texas, there were large banners standing by each exit door. On them was the verse Acts 1:8: “But you2008 02 23 00.50.16 2019 03 07 18 15 54 UTC shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Little did I know at the time how that applied to the kids in my church.

One spring at my church, I felt led by the Lord to take our preteens on a mission trip. We took time to train and prepare them for the mission trip. We taught them songs and motions to go with them. They learned the different crafts and games the children would play. Then we taught the preteens how to teach an evangelistic Bible study. Yes—they were going to do all the teaching. This was a first for me and my leadership.

We chose a location in Corpus Christi, Texas. While we were driving there from Fort Worth, I kept wondering if I had heard correctly from the Lord. Even my pastor questioned my judgment before we left on the trip. Some of our leaders had real difficulty allowing our preteens to lead and teach the Bible studies.

On the first day of the trip in a local apartment complex, Mark (5th grader) taught the Bible study. One of the leaders there shared, “As he stood up to teach, he was a little nervous at first but became very confident.” To this leader’s surprise, after Mark gave an invitation to those who were there to respond to the Gospel, seven people accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord—three of them were teenagers.

Mark approached me that afternoon and said, “Brother Clint.” I replied, “Yes?” He asked, “Can I talk with you for a moment?” I told him, “Sure.” Mark said, “When I was teaching today, something like fire was going through me.” I told him, “Mark, that was the Holy Spirit—Acts 1:8. The Holy Spirit spoke through you today.”

After hearing Mark’s story about 16 years ago, I thought this was quite significant, so I began videotaping and documenting what I was seeing. I have now been on 30 preteen mission trips with more than 3,000 preteens and leaders. What is very common in my observations is that the Holy Spirit shows up powerfully in the lives of preteens when we align them with the Great Commission…not just talking about missions but being on mission.

During an evangelistic event on one of our mission trips, we had a 12-year-old boy named Trent share the Gospel. He came to me beforehand and said, “I am really scared.” I asked him, “What do you need to do?” He said, “Surrender.” I watched as he went to the front of the worship center and prayed at the altar.

When he got up to speak, you could tell he was really nervous. After he prayed aloud, he started speaking, and as he was quoting Romans 3:23, you could see the Holy Spirit take over. He became clear and concise. He quoted verse after verse, clearly sharing the Gospel message. When Trent was done, he gave an invitation. At least 30 people prayed to receive Christ. I asked him afterward how he felt about sharing. He said, “I don’t remember a word I said.”

What preteens experience is hard for them to describe. Sarah (5th grader) shared, “When we started preaching today at the mobile home park, I was just shaking. I said, ‘God, You have to take over. I can’t do this on my own.’ At that point, I went braindead. God spoke through me. I don’t remember what I even said.”

This is very common with children and preteens how the Spirit of God works through them. When they are proclaiming the Gospel, what Jesus promised becomes true. “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matthew 10:19-20).

This might surprise you, but the Holy Spirit will rarely show up in the lives of preteens in your church. This is true. Where I found the greatest move of the Holy Spirit in the lives of preteens was when we united them with Jesus’ Great Commission. Why? Because we are aligning them with the heart of God and the reason Christ died for the sins of the world.

Here is some advice from my 30+ years of ministry:

  1. Train every preteen in your ministry how to share their faith. Find a great tool and have them practice with each other. The reason they don’t share is that they don’t know how. Train them, commission them, and then send them out.
  2. Make plans to take them outside the walls of your church to minister in your community, sharing the Gospel.
  3. Train them how to teach an evangelistic Bible study. Find a tool that has an evangelistic message with every lesson. Teach them how to explain the lesson and have them practice it repeatedly. Encourage them to teach the lesson to their family and friends at home, at school, or in the neighborhood.
  4. Find a location where they can minister. We have gone into apartment complexes, mobile home parks, schools, and even several Boys and GirlsENTG Leadership Training Clubs. The amazing thing is, as you pray and seek the Lord, He will open the doors.
  5. Plan to take them on a mission trip if you have the resources. God can do some amazing things through their lives if you do. Allow them to lead out and have the adults be there to support them.

The church should never be a place where preteens just sit and listen. Your church should be a place where you equip these younger saints for works of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13). I promise you, when you align them with the Great Commission, God shows up, and the Holy Spirit speaks through them in amazing and powerful ways.