Archives For family ministry

This past weekend was a powerful one. Saturday, we hosted a retreat for preteens and parents. We had 36 families attend what turned out to be a very powerful day. Then on Sunday, we met with over 200 parents to cast vision for the future of preteen ministry. The room was buzzing with excitement!

Each event was significant enough to talk about for hours, so I’m breaking this post into two parts. Part one is all about the Preteen/Parent Retreat.

Our prayer for the weekend was to connect preteens and their parents in powerful conversations about life and faith. We petitioned God to show up, and He did in a powerful way.

Here is a copy of the schedule and handouts we used for the day. I’ve also included my notes for the talks that I gave in Session 1 and Session 2. (I also have Prezi presentations for Session #1 and Session #2, if you’re interested)

Preteen Retreat Handout
Main Session 1–Communication
Main Session 2–Letting Go of the Bike

 

Main Session #1: Communication
In the first session, we began with a game of “Telephone.” Round 1 was complete chaos. We had 80s music blaring, the repeated message was just ridiculous, and you could only whisper it to the next person once. Needless to say, the message was lost in translation.

Round 2 was different. We kept the room completely silent and had each team repeat a simple message out loud as many times as needed. They could also write the message down and pass it on. Of course, the message easily passed through the line.

Round 1 is much like our lives: chaos, distractions, and a failure to repeat important messages. Round 2 is what preteens need: clear message, repeated often, sometimes even in writing. The game was the perfect segway into a talk on communication.

We focused on very practical steps for parents to carve out time to talk about the important things with their son or daughter. Parents and preteens worked together to choose 3 times that were best for them to talk with one another. Then we gave them 3 important topics to talk about with preteens: Life (day-to-day events), Faith (where do you see God in the dad-to-day events), and Prayer (pray for and with one another).

We closed the session by asking families to create a calendar that included their specific talk times and talk topics. They put the dates on paper and made a commitment to one another to honor those talk times for the month of May. Our prayer is that committing to one month will lead to long-term commitment.

 

Main Session #2: Letting Go of the Bike
The second session was all about the philosophy of “Letting Go of the Bike” from FourFiveSix.org.

We started in a fun way with a bike race. We put parents on toddler bikes and watched them race through the parking lot. Before the race, we had every parent hand over their camera phone to their preteen. It was so cool to watch them snapping picture after picture of their parents!



In the session, we talked to parents about how to help their preteens take ownership of their faith. It was a great conversation! Several parents were hearing their preteens discuss their views on faith for the first time. They had some great ideas for how to live out faith in their home and in their community. As a practical example, we had preteens shout out attributes of God—loving, powerful, all-knowing, provider. Then we had each family pick one attribute of God and share how they saw Him be that in their lives. Dads, Moms, and Preteens were all sharing ways that they have seen God move in and around them. So cool!

 

Main Session #3: Dr. Robert Lewis
After lunch, I took preteens outside to just run off some pent-up energy. Meanwhile, parents got to hear Dr. Robert Lewis, founder of Men’s Fraternity and author of Raising a Modern Day Knight, share about parenting. He dropped so much wisdom that I will share in another post. After an hour and a half, the parents were begging him to keep going and give them more!

 

Closing Ceremony
We closed the day with a very special activity. We gave every individual a pen and piece of stationary, and we asked them to write a letter. Preteens wrote a letter to their parent(s) with three parts: thanksgiving for their parents, a plea for them to stay involved and lead them, and a prayer for their future relationship.



Likewise, parents wrote a letter to their preteens telling them how much they love and value them, the characteristics that pray their child has at 18, and a spiritual blessing for their child. After the letters were written, the families reconnected and had a special time to read the letter to one another.

This was a very special moment to end on. At one point, I looked out a window and saw a dad and daughter clinched in a bear hug. I went on doing something else for about 5 minutes, and when I looked up again they were still in that bear hug. She had tears streaming down her face, and she just wouldn’t let go of her Dad.

We wanted to connect the hearts of preteens and parents in this unique stage of life, and we prayed that God would do more than we could ask, think, or imagine.

He did. He definitely did.


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.

Survey Says…

March 27, 2012 — Leave a comment


One of the most beneficial practices that we have in our preteen ministry is the use of surveys or questionnaires. Following each unit, we pass out a questionnaire that usually includes 10-12 short-answer questions. The purpose of the survey is to think how they will apply what they learned in the previous unit and to get them thinking about the next unit’s topic. These surveys have created an effective evaluation process for what we teach and how we teach.

Here are a few ways the surveys have helped:

    Surveys show us the “felt needs” of preteens that need to be addressed from a Biblical perspective in our teaching

    Surveys give insight to what teaching methods are most effective for the group and what methods are “duds”

    Surveys provide encouragement for our small group leaders as they see proof that their students are “getting it”

    Surveys give preteens a chance to communicate what they’re learning and give input into the direction of the ministry

    Surveys give preteens an opportunity to think through the life application of what the Bible is teaching them

What method(s) do you use to evaluate your ministry?