Archives For Preteen Ministry

danamo

When I woke up this morning, I had a flood of memories from this day 8 years ago. When I woke up on June 4, 2005, I was getting ready to marry my best friend, Dana. As excited as I was, I had no idea what the next 8 years would look like.

I had some great ideas of what our marriage would be, but the tough spots have been tougher than I expected and the great parts have been far greater than I ever imagined. I can honestly say that I married my best friend, and every moment has been incredible.

I love everything about my wife. I know I’m biased, but I would say she’s the perfect wife. In honor of our 8-year anniversary, here are the Top 8 things I love about my wife, Dana.

I Love…

1. Her Smile

Even on the crummiest days, everything seems better when I see Dana smile. I do some pretty stupid stuff and make a fool of myself on a regular basis just to try to make her smile. I love seeing her smile because it makes me smile!

2. Her Kisses

Neither of us are really “affectionate” or PDA-style people. We always try to respond to one another while juggling the busyness of life, but it’s hard. I love that my wife knows when I need her kisses the most. When I’m super stressed or feeling down, she can change my day with her kiss. I love that she knows just the right time to lay one on me!

3. Her Mom Skillz

Any father should really appreciate his wife’s Mom Skillz. (Yes, I just spelled that with a “z.”) If you don’t, take a day to fill in for her and you certainly will. I honestly don’t know how she does it, and I definitely don’t show her enough appreciate for it. She balances life for me and our daughters, and she is the glue that hold everything together

4. Her Faith in Me

In the past 8 years, we’ve been on a roller coaster. We’ve changed jobs and made moves that really took us out of our comfort zone. She’s a planner that likes to know everything that is going to happen, but she has faithfully stuck with me on a crazy ride. In each step, she has had faith in me and trusted me. Even in times when I doubted myself, she kept having faith in me.

5. Her Faith in God

I admire my wife’s faith in God. A big reason that she can follow me into hairy situations is because she has tremendous faith in God. She’s reading this and saying that she doesn’t have faith, but her actions have always spoken otherwise. She has always been an example for me in how to trust God and follow His lead.

6. The Way She Loves Others

You really should be friends with my wife. She loves her friends so much. I love watching her talk with them and spend time with them. She’ll tell you that she’s naturally shy and doesn’t have many friends, but I’ve seen her invest in the people around her and really love them well.

7. Her Value of Family Time

My wife values times together as a family, so she makes it happen. I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve eaten dinner in front of a TV! I really appreciate the way my wife values our family and creates quality time for us–as crazy and hard as it may be!

8. That She’s My Best Friend

The greatest reason that I love my wife is because she’s my best friend. There is no one in the world that knows as much about my failures and insecurities than her. She has seen the good, the bad, and the very ugly sides of me. Through all of that, she’s chosen to still love me. There’s no value that I can put on her friendship and the impact it’s had on my life. I’m so thankful that I get to spend my life with my very best friend.

Dana, I love you and I always will.

Anniversary Collage

hsd_open_mic_night

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you let preteens take over your service? What if you gave them an “open mic”?

This month, we’ve been focusing on the Gospel and our need. We gave preteens a glimpse of the world’s need for Jesus by highlighting that there are estimated 2.88 billion people who are “unreached,” which means they’ve not heard the Gospel. On a closer level, there are 259 million people in North America that do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  We even broke it down to our city and community to see the great need for the Gospel.

The following week, we focused on the power of our personal testimonies to share the Gospel. We led preteens to talk through and write their faith story. It was a great opportunity to share the Gospel with some of our students who were struggling to write. It was also a great chance to hear our students personalize their faith and start sharing.

This past Sunday, we invited preteens to pick up the “open mic” and share their faith story with their peers. We had some back-up plans to fill the time in case no one responded, but we actually had to cut them off!

Here are some of the stories that we heard during the testimony time:

  • 6th Grade boy told about an opportunity he had to share about Jesus with a classmate. The teacher overheard and called his parents to “brag” about his boldness.
  • 6th Grade boy shared his testimony and how he walked through the decision with his dad. His quote, “If someone asked me why they should trust in Jesus, I would read Romans 3:23. You just can’t argue with that!”
  • 5th Grade girl shared about a friend that had been asking questions about the Bible and Jesus. She told about the conversations they were getting to have together.
  • 6th Grade girl shared her testimony that came through conversations with her mom. She said, “My dad is a Hindu. My mom and I are Christians.” She and her mother have taken a huge step to trust in Jesus, and they continue to share Jesus with the dad.
  • 6th Grade girl shared about an abusive situation in her family, and how the love she felt from others in that situation led her to trust in Christ.
  • 5th Grade girl shared her testimony and how Jesus had brought so much joy into her life.

At the end of the share time,we were speechless and many of us had tears. It was amazing to see preteens sharing about what God is doing in them and around them. We will definitely plan a service like this again soon!

What would happen if you gave preteens an open mic?

piggy-bankOn one of our first Sundays this year, a small group leader approached me after service with a look of 50% frazzle and 50% despair. Her group had given her the “stone-cold” treatment. She felt defeated because the girls just wouldn’t engage in the discussion.

Have you ever felt that way when working with preteens?

We all have moments when we question our sanity for leading a children’s or preteen group. There are moments when they act out, moments when they’re rude, and moments when they just sit and stare. What are we supposed to do in those moments?

The answer: I don’t know. I really don’t know a tried and true solution that will fix those problems. There is always something we can do to be better and get better involvement, so you just have to keep working at it. But in those moments, there is one for sure thing that you should never do: Give Up.

That’s right. Don’t give up. Leading a group of preteens is like putting money into a piggy bank, a relational piggy bank.

Every Sunday, you’re making an investment that may not seem to be worth much. However, over time those investments add up. After years of steady investment, the relational piggy bank is stocked like Fort Knox!

With each investment, you are gaining trust and the privilege to speak Truth into that preteen. Your relational investments show them that they matter. When the time comes for them to need someone to trust and talk with, they will come to you because you’ve invested in them. This is why we encourage our small group leaders to move with their group. We want them to spend several years investing so that they can have the greatest influence.

When that preteen burps in your face this Sunday and it reeks of donuts and Mountain Dew, just remember that you’re making an investment and it will pay off.

Young man reading small Bible

I’ve been a follower of Jesus for a long time–20+ years, but I’ve recently hit a growth spurt. Over the last four or five years, the power of Scripture has captured me. As I’ve dug into the word, It has sparked an interest in theology, doctrine, Christian disciplines, and more. It has also sparked an interest to memorize Scripture and “hide it in my heart.” Psalm 119:9-16 is a reminder of the power of God’s written word:

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare
all the rules[c] of your mouth.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.

In this process of storing Scripture in my heart, I’ve discovered that you can teach an old dog new tricks, but it’s really, really hard! I’ve used several Scripture memorization methods to try to help me in this quest. Then I discovered a tried and true method. The easiest way to memorize Scripture is to teach it and memorize it with your kids.

A few weeks ago, my wife, Dana, and I started thinking about teaching some verses to our 2 1/2-year-old, Maggie. We picked a verse and read it each night for a week, and we would practice saying the verse together with Maggie. I was utterly shocked when she began to repeat it back to me with ease after just a few days. Then we moved on to a second verse, and she did the same thing. I felt challenged to keep up with my toddler! Seeing her excitement and joy after saying the verse reminds me to delight in the Word of God. I can’t wait until we look back a few months from now and have 5 or 6 verses that we’ve hidden in our hearts!

She was trying not to look at me or the camera, but here is Maggie reciting her verses before bed last night: