Archives For Preteen Leaders Conference

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!

I have the utmost respect and admiration for Gordon and Becki West. They are pioneers in preteen ministry (Gordon, I did not say “Grandparents”). Gordon and Becki began working with preteens when I was just a toddler, and they continue to lead the charge for communicating the Gospel to this unique group.

In true pioneering fashion, Gordon West opened the 2012 Preteen Leaders Conference. There were so many great things that Gordon said, but here are the highlights from his session that I was able to capture in my notes.

    “When children’s leaders and junior high leaders don’t get along, everyone loses. Not just the kids, EVERYONE.”

Gordon really nailed the need for collaboration between children’s and student ministries. For preteen ministry to succeed, it must be a joint effort. There needs to be a strategy for how we transition preteens from ministry to ministry.

    “You can pick up any curriculum or any teaching guide and make it work if you understand your preteens.”

So true! My guess is that the majority of the room was struggling with what curriculum to teach preteens. Do we use a children’s curriculum? Do we use a student ministry curriculum? Do we write our own? Those are all questions we in preteen ministry have dealt with. Gordon reminded leaders that you can’t copy a model. You have to understand the idea and how it could work in the context of your church and with your unique group of preteens. If we will spend time getting to know them, building relationships with them, and listening to their needs—the teachings will flow from that.

    “Even on the worst day of your ministry, Jesus is madly in love with you and He is delighted with what you’re doing in the life of preteens.”

Hearing those words from an experienced leader and veteran in preteen ministry was just what I needed. We all make plans that we believe will be great, but plans fail. When I experience a failure, I tend to be overwhelmed with the weight of that failure. It is so refreshing and uplifting to be reminded that Jesus loves me and is delighted in my service no matter what.

BONUS

Gordon West is not a fan of the term “tweens!” I know many people use the term interchangeably with preteens and think nothing of it. I too had a slight aversion to the word “tween,” but I couldn’t really give a reason. I may be biased, but Gordon’s reason was compelling. Gordon argued that preteens are not “tween” anything. We don’t call High School students “tweens” just because they are between Jr. High and College, Gordon pointed out that preteen is a cross-culturally identifiable developmental stage. Therefore, they deserve a distinct title that fits this stage of life.

Where you there? What did you gain from the session with Gordon West?

A month from now, preteen leaders from all across the country will gather together in Rocklin, CA for the Preteen Leaders Conference. In its 5th year, the conference is designed to spark conversation. It’s all about how can we better lead preteens to a deeper understanding of Scripture and their relationship with Jesus Christ. I can’t wait to enjoy the conversations and experiences that will happen at the conference!

At the conference, I’ll be leading two breakouts–Connecting with Parents of Preteens & Cultivating Leaders. Let me know if you plan to attend one of these breakouts. (I need some friendly faces to help me out.)

If you’re not attending the Preteen Leaders Conference, (WHY NOT??) I will post a preview of the sessions before the conference and full notes after the conference.

It’s not too late to sign-up for the conference. Click here to reserve your spot at the Preteen Leaders Conference!

Are you attending the conference? If so, leave a comment or send me a TWEET and let me know the #1 thing you’re hoping to gain from the conference.