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applyIn writing our curriculum for Fifty6, we really wanted to make every lesson connect with preteens and their daily lives. We wanted to draw lines between what the Bible says and how it can be put into practice. We want them to walk away from every lesson with an idea that will challenge them to live differently based on what they’ve learned from God’s Word.

Here’s how we’re encouraging preteens to apply the Bible to their lives:

1. Make space in the lesson for action steps

At the end of every small group session, we have a segment called React. We do a quick review of the lesson and ask preteens to consider how it will make a difference in their lives. We challenge them by asking this question, In light of all we learned, what will we do differently this week? Here is an example of the React portion of Small Group:

2. Give suggestions, but let preteens make decisions

We’ve decided that we will always provide some suggested action steps for preteens, but we ultimately want them to decide how they will apply the lesson to their lives. We don’t want to tell them how to react because we don’t want to limit the way Scripture is working in their life. We want them to make decisions and take this step in owning their faith.

3. Provide Accountability in the Small Group

Accountability is always important in life-change. To make sure that preteens have accountability, we ask small group leaders to follow-up each week on the previous week’s React segment. Preteens are free to share how they applied the Bible to their lives and what God is doing through that.

How do you help preteens apply the Bible to their life?

Our church has had a strong ministry for 5th & 6th Graders for a long time. They started investing in this age group over 15 years ago, and they saw God do some amazing things over those years. Their investment in preteens was one of the major factors that God used to call me to Fellowship Bible Church.

When I came a year and a half ago, the church was looking to make an investment in preteen ministry for the next 15 years. We spent countless hours praying and discussing, and the vision was Fifty6. Fifty6 launched this past Sunday, and it was amazing.


Preteens “mingling” during People Bingo

Leaders are already sharing how God is moving in their group. We call them God Stories. My favorite God Story from this past Sunday came from a small group mentor and a 6th grade boy.

The mentor got a phone call on Sunday morning from a boy who has been in his group for a few years. The boys’ parents had decided that they were going to be heading out-of-town and would have to miss church. The 6th grade boy wanted to be at Fifty6, so he called his mentor and asked for a ride! Of course, the mentor went and picked him up! I’m thankful for how God is using Fifty6 to draw preteens to Him.


Teaching Time in Fifty6

I can’t wait to share some of the things that we’ve learned in starting this new ministry. Is it next Sunday yet?

Has your preteen ministry launched for the new year? If so, how did it go?

shhhMid-August is like New Year’s for me. My calendar has always followed that schedule. First, August sparked a new year because I was a student, and now it sparks a new year because I’m in ministry.

As I start the “new year”, one of my goals or “resolutions” is to work on my communication with family, co-workers, and others.

Here are 3 phrases I want to say less this year…

I’m sorry if I offended you or hurt your feelings, but…

So much wrong with this statement. It’s a sad excuse for an apology and a poor attempt to justify my sinful behavior. I need to work on sincere apologies.

Well, I heard that…

I love gossip. I love hearing it, and I love spreading it. God has really convicted me of this and I am challenged to erase this phrase from my vocabulary.

I don’t care.

When I get overwhelmed or stressed, this is my go-to phrase. I simply shut down. I want to work on being assertive and taking initiative in those moments, instead of saying “I don’t care.”

Here are 3 phrases that I want to say more this year…

It’s ok.

I can set high expectations on other people. I am easily disappointed when those expectations aren’t met, even when they’re unrealistic. This phrase is not for other people. It is for me. I need to tell myself that “it’s ok” to take a chill pill and be content.

Can I pray with you about that right now?

I have conversations every day in which people share with me what’s happening in their life. It’s sometimes great, and it’s sometimes bad. My desire is to stop right then and there and pray with them about what God is doing.


My calendar was pretty full this past year because I said “yes” too many times. I want to be more selective about what I agree to do so that I don’t sacrifice my family time or personal health.

I’m pretty sure the man who lives under a rock in a cave on the deserted island of “Nomansland” has heard about the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. I fully support Dan Cathy and his business principles. After reading much about the Cathy family and learning about their heart for people, it is clear that he is a man of deep compassion. I commend Dan Cathy for his comments and his conviction. Based on all that I know of this man and his father, I honestly do not think there was any hatred in his statements. I’m sure he understood that his comments would be polarizing, but that does not equal hatred. I may take a more serious approach to this subject in a later post, but that will have to wait.

Have you ever heard of a Jesus Juke?

You really should be following Jon Acuff on Twitter and checking out his blog, Stuff Christians Like. (It’s got almost as many followers as Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day!) Jon gave the world so many great things like the “Jesus Juke.” According to Jon, a “Jesus Juke” is

“when someone takes what is clearly a joke filled conversation and completely reverses direction into something serious and holy.”

I know the whole ordeal with Cathy’s comments and Chick-fil-A is not a “joke filled conversation,” but I’ve still seen people flip the conversation to a self-righteous circus. I’ve really been amused at the “Jesus Juke” responses that I’ve seen on twitter. I don’t judge these people for their responses because there is truth to their statements, but that’s not the point. People stand in 100-degree heat for hours just to get a chicken sandwich, and then you go and pull a Jesus Juke! C’mon man, it’s just not right.

I decided to start saving some of the top “Jesus Jukes” that I’ve seen from Twitter. Here are just a few that I pulled last night…





I wish we could all order a chicken sandwich, give each other a nice side-hug, and talk about the issue. Until then, keep the “Jesus Jukes” coming!

Did you see any Chick-fil-A “Jesus Jukes” worth sharing?