Archives For discipleship

If you ask any size group of preteens if they have experienced or witnessed bullying, the vast majority of them would answer, “Yes!” In fact, research suggests that 97% of middle school students have personally experienced a form of bullying. These students suffer visible and invisible effects from these experiences. Whether it is cyber-bullying, physical bullying, or verbal/emotional bullying, those that work with preteens need to be helping them deal with this tough topic. On any given day, over 160,000 kids will stay home from school because of fear and anxiety caused by bullying. It’s heartbreaking to think of the damages.

October is Bully Prevention Awareness Month

Blueshirt2011

Today is Blue Shirt Day

Students across the nation will be wearing blue shirts and blue wristbands in support of a movement to end bullying in their schools.  Principals and teachers have worked hard to increase awareness of bullying and to prevent its occurrence in their schools. Those who work with preteens in the church should also be addressing this subject. Preteens need to experience the truth of God’s Word and what it says about our relationships with others.

Here are some great resources for talking with preteens about bullying:

  • Bullying—Taking Down Goliath—Preteenministry.net has great resources for teaching and discipling preteens.  If you’re a ministry leader, check out this four-week series on bullying.

Wednesday morning, I rose from a deep, deep, deep sleep at 3:30 AM to head to the airport and head to Dallas for D6 Conference. While I would’ve loved to sleep just a little longer, the pre-conference labs were worth the sacrifice.  Here is a little bit about the labs that I attended and the take-aways that I’m processing:

Pre-Con Lab #1 with Dr. Richard Ross
Dr. Ross is an outstanding speaker and mentor on all things Student Ministry.  But what really spoke to me this morning in his session was how he spoke from his heart.  He didn’t share statistics or projections.  He simply shared a prayer that he prayed for his son that morning.  He shared how even those his son was in college, Dr. Ross still sought out moments to make a heart connection with his son.  He spoke on this heart connection and how it is the primary “pipe” for how a parent passes on their spiritual maturity to their son or daughter. Without a heart connection, we are unable to pass along spiritual material to our child.  These heart connections are strengthened by 1) Proper Handling of Discipline, 2) Encouraging Words, and 3) Focused Time & Fixed Attention.

How does this relate to preteens?
Dr. Ross pointed out that the disconnect of this heart connection was a common issue between parents and teenagers.  He mentioned that parents often do not struggle to make heart connections with their younger child.  So, when does the disconnect happen?  I couldn’t help but think of the potential for a disconnect during the preteen years.  I spent much of the day thinking about our Preteen Retreat and how that must be an opportunity for parents and preteens to bond and communicate so that their heart connection will withstand the next 8 to 10 years.

 

Pre-Con Lab #2 with Mark Matlock
I love hearing Mark speak on student ministry.  He has a way of relaying mounds of information in a manageable format. The session was all about developing real world parents.  Mark quoted research that showed on all questions pertaining to spiritual development, parents were the top-rated influence. There is no greater influence than that of mom and dad. So, how do we equip parents to capitalize on that influence? Mark spent some explaining what it meant to raise ambassadors for Christ.  This means that the home is the embassy where those ambassadors are raised, encouraged, and unleashed. Mark shared about living within God’s bigger story and the 3 responses that parents can take to this life: Isolation from the World, Agreement with the World, or Transformation of the World. We pray that families choose the latter.  This is truly living inside God’s bigger story.

What does this mean for preteens?
I’m really trying to process what it means for families of preteens to embrace living in God’s bigger story.  What am I calling families to rise up and be a part of that is bigger than them? How are we empowering parents and/or preteens to practice their faith? Are we teaching parents to simply correct behaviors or are we teaching them to instill a worldview that includes God’s bigger story?

Looking forward to the main session tomorrow.  Go to d6conference.com to listen to session live.

 

 

If you didn’t already know, I’m a nerd. When something catches my interest, I really want to study it and research it to learn more. In college, I did research for my final thesis on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Here is a little background…

In 1983, Howard Gardner put forth the idea of Multiple Intelligences. The theory of Multiple Intelligences is met with skepticism due to lack of research, but many educational systems still use components of his theory. Gardner suggests that intelligence goes beyond simply reading and writing.  Gardner’s theory proposed 8 abilities in which “intelligence” could be measured.  They are:

  • Logical-Mathematical—learns through the use of reasoning, patterns, and numbers (computer programmer, detective) 
  • Spatial—learns through use of visualizing and designing with the mind’s eye (architect) 
  • Linguistic—learns through use of words, written and/or spoken (author)
  •  Bodily-Kinesthetic—learns through the use of movement, motions, and activity (athlete)
  •  Musical—learns through the use of music, rhythm, and music theory (musician)
  • Interpersonal—learns through the interaction with others (sales person)
  • Intrapersonal—learns through the act of self-reflection (psychologists, lawyers)
  • Naturalistic—learns through relating information to natural surroundings (farmer, agriculturist)

That’s a really brief and insufficient explanation of the theory, but you can read tons more about it—the good and the bad—by googling it. It will have to do for this blog. My research into this theory was how it could be implemented in ministry curriculum to help kids better understand God’s Truth.  I think it has great potential to be used in churches and to better the learning experience of all age groups, but ESPECIALLY PRETEENS!

Sunday, we put it into practice.  We were wrapping up a unit with 5th graders on spiritual warfare.  As a review, we set up 5 stations and allowed students to choose their activity for the day. The stations were: Music, Body, Numbers, Words, and Pictures.  If a student chose Music, then they were given a passage of scripture relating to spiritual warfare and asked to create a song or rap that shared what they had learned from the passage.  Each station did similar activities relating to that form of “intelligence,” or as we called it “learning style.” 

As a Preteen Pastor, I know the struggle it is to get this age group to participate and really engage in a project. We often force them to all do the same things and the results are horrendous.  By allowing them to choose the activity, we saw what their natural preferences or learning styles were.  And since they chose the station, we had no problem getting them to actively participate.  The result…AMAZING!  There were incredible stories written, very talented rappers showed their rhyming skills, beautiful artwork, awesome skits, and really cool puzzles/riddles—all of which showed that the students understood what we had been teaching. And even better, it showed that they were able to share that knowledge with other students through their chosen learning style.

I’m excited to keep researching and integrating this into our curriculum.  There’s not enough space here to share all that we did or all that we’re planning, but I’d love share more or answer questions. If you’d like to know more, send me a tweet or leave a comment below.

Imagine if you woke up to find that all your clothes were 2 sizes too large and all your shoes were 2 sizes too small. How would you feel being forced to wear something that was obviously created with someone else in mind?

What if, on that same day, you realized that all television stations spoke in a foreign language that you could not understand? Not only are you frustrated and confused, but you are also mission out on much needed information.

This scenario is exaggerated a bit, but I can only imagine that this is what a preteen feels like when their church experience is not something designed specifically for them. Preteens don’t need an adult curriculum or a “children’s” curriculum anymore than you need enormously large clothes or ridiculously small shoes!  This age group needs opportunities to ask tough questions and see how Scripture gives them answers. Preteens are unique and they deserve a curriculum that fits their life right now.

Lifeway understood the unique needs of preteens, and they’ve produced a curriculum that every leader should explore. I got a chance to review FLYTE, Lifeway’s preteen curriculum, and I was really impressed with the thought and production that went into this series.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Awesome graphics and videos to go with lessons (this is HUGE for preteens)
  • Biblically-solid teaching that applies Scripture to preteen issues
  • Teaches preteens the difference between “world’s answer” and “God’s answer”
  • 2-year scope and sequence that can also be used as stand-alone lessons/units
  • Tons of extras—training material and videos, blog, product specialists, leader devotions, student devotions, and much more
  • MOST IMPORTANT—gives preteens the opportunity to explore the Bible and discover God’s plan and purpose for this stage of life

Based on what I saw in this curriculum, I think it is definitely a home run for preteen ministry.  Price is always an issue for ministries, and, well, this curriculum isn’t free.  However, I believe the curriculum is well worth the cost considering it’s effectiveness and all the extras that you’ll receive. 

Don’t take my word for it though—go check it out!  See more at Lifeway’s Website.

<p>FLYTE Promo from LifeWay Kids on Vimeo.</p>