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It is really hard for me to fathom that I’ve stuck with this for a whole year. I’m not usually that disciplined.

There are tons of reasons why I started blogging and many reasons why I continue to do so. The most important of which is to network with other preteen, children’s, and student ministry leaders on how we can be more effective at reaching the next generation. I have to admit that I started blogging because I thought I might have something to offer, but in this first year I have been blessed with so much more than I could ever give. (What an example of God and His Grace!)

Here are the things that I’m most thankful for from Year #1:

1. New Friends
Blogging has connected me with so many great leaders that I probably would have never had the chance to meet. I’ve met people who are asking my advice (not many), and I’ve met people who have passed on loads of wisdom to me. It is such a blessing to get to build these relationships that help me personally and in ministry. To all my new friends, “Thank you!”

2. New Ideas
This past year has been one of the most fun and most fruitful years of ministry in my life. God has brought so many people into my life to share new ideas, and this has really stretched me. We’ve all tried some things that don’t work, and we’ve all found a few golden nuggets here and there. It’s such a blessing to be able to sit down with other leaders and share those ministry ideas.

3. New Opportunities
Ok, so I totally did not see this one coming. I felt God calling me to take a risk and throw my ideas out for others to read and discuss, so I took the risk. Never in my wildest dreams did I think those thoughts would go further than my wife and maybe a few friends. Instead, those thoughts have reached to 13 different countries. I’ve gotten emails from missionaries in Africa…AFRICA! I never knew what God would do with the blog, but he has used it to open new doors. In the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to do some writing for Preteenministry.net, FourFiveSix, Lifeway Christian Resources, Kidmin360, and others. I’ve gotten the opportunity to go and speak at churches and the Preteen Leaders Conference. God has used blogging to bless me and my family is some really cool ways.

Here comes Year #2!
This year, I want to continue what we’ve done in year #1, but I also want to grow into providing some resources and materials for those launching a preteen ministry.

We are getting ready to launch a floor-to-ceiling overhaul of our preteen ministry. We’re changing our strategy, our room, and pretty much everything in-between. This is going to be an exciting transformation for our church. In this process, we’re learning some things to do and some things not to do, so I look forward to sharing some of what we learn about launching a preteen ministry.

The second main session of the 2012 Preteen Leaders Conference featured Nick Diliberto, creator of Preteenministry.net. Nick is a naturally gifted leader. I’ve been working for Nick over the past year as a content writer for PreteenMinistry.net, and over that period I’ve learned a lot from his experience in ministry. I was really looking forward to hearing Nick speak, and he did not disappoint.

Nick began the session with this quote from Uncertain by Jonathan Fields:

“Uncertainty is what goes on in your head, your heart, and your gut when you strive to create anything truly extraordinary.”

Nick reminded us that when we follow Jesus, we enter into a life of uncertainty and risks. Abraham, Noah, the disciples—they were all called out of their comfort zone to be used by God in extraordinary ways. In the same way, God calls us to take risks for His Kingdom.

“Risk is filled with uncertainty, fear, and doubt. But it is necessary to do the extraordinary.” –Nick Diliberto

Nick shared a very personal and powerful testimony about how God has called him out of his comfort zone and led him to take risks. He encouraged everyone to also follow God into the unknown and take risks to expand His Kingdom.

Nick wrapped the session with three ways to get better at taking risks. Here are the notes from what Nick shared:

    3 Ways to Get Better at Taking Risks:

    1) Get in the Habit of Expanding Your Comfort Zone
    Do things in your personal life and ministry to expand your comfort zone. Whether it’s jumping out of an airplane or sharing your testimony with a total group of strangers, find new experiences that challenge you and expand your potential to be used by God.

    2) Be Persistent
    “Failure is the stepping-stone to success. When you take risks, you will encounter uncertainty, adversity, and possibly failure. In those moments, you must trust in God’s power to help you break through those walls and press on towards to goal.

    3) Don’t Pause, Just Go
    When we take risks, we tend to over-analyze things. We think and think and think to the point that we talk ourselves out of it. This doesn’t mean that we are reckless in our risk-taking. The idea is that we do not hesitate when God calls us. When He says move, we move by faith.

What risk is God leading you to take personally or in ministry? To do anything extraordinary for God, it is going to involve risk. Have faith and follow Him!

Thanks, Nick, for the great session and inspiring testimony!


It’s Day 2 of the Preteen Leaders Conference, and I already have a bag full of ideas and notes from some great preteen leaders. Stay tuned to the blog next week, I will do a recap of the conference with detailed notes from the main sessions.

Today, I get to lead another breakout with preteen leaders on the topic of cultivating leaders. The main idea of the session will be the premise that

    The people in and around your ministry will define your ministry.

This fact may encourage some and scare the living daylight out of others! Parents, preteens, and other potential leaders will judge the ministry based upon those they see the most, which is likely the volunteer leadership you have placed in charged.

With this in mind, it is important that we create an environment that sets our leaders up to be successful in their service to God. Like a farmer provides the necessities to cultivate a good crop, we need to have a strategy for cultivating great leaders.

Here are the 8 Ways to Create a Culture that Cultivates Leaders that I will share in today’s breakout session:

    1) Set Standards and Expectations for Your Team
    2) Cast an Inspiring Vision for Your Team
    3) Build a Sense of “Family” Amongst Your Team
    4) Train Your Team Well and Often
    5) Celebrate “God-Stories” with Your Team
    6) Form a Friendship with Every Member of Your Team
    7) Provide Opportunities for Your Team to Give Input and Feedback
    7) Make Sure Every Team Member (Including Yourself) is Growing

If you would like more info on any of these, leave a comment and I’ll send you the notes from the breakout.

The Preteen Leaders Conference begins tomorrow, and I’m excited to get to lead two breakouts for some of the attendees. The first of the breakouts is titled, “Connecting with Parents of Preteens.” We will look at why it’s important to integrate the home into preteen ministry, and how we can call parents to engage in the strategy.

In preparing for the session, I dug out my notes from a study that was released a few years ago by Barna Research and The Rethink Group. Along with tons of other great findings, here is what the research found when it came to the strategy and/or expectations for parental involvement:

    • 46% of parents admittedly do not have a plan to accomplish the desired outcomes in their children.

    • 72% of parents said that the church could be a good help for the development of this plan

    • However, only half (45%) said the expectations (action plan) of the church were clear

If you don’t have a strategy to connect the home with your ministry, the question is, “Why not?”

It is clear that parents are looking at the church as a great source of training and equipping. They recognize their role in the transfer of faith to their children, and they see value in what the church can offer.

If you do have a strategy to connect the home with your ministry, the questions is, “How clearly have we communicated this strategy to parents?” and “How are we measuring the success or failure of our strategy?”

As much as parents look to the church for training, we are not doing well at meeting that demand. Stop blaming parents for not caring or not being active in their child’s spiritual development, and start communicating a strategy that they can understand and execute.