Archives For preteen ministry

Power of Community

August 11, 2011 — Leave a comment

One of my recent prayers has been for God to guide me to opportunities for community with other people working in ministry–particularly children’s or preteen ministry.  The lifestyles we live and the issues we face are unique and complex, and it’s great to be able to talk it out with others in the same position.  I wasn’t sure what it would look like or how that would develop, but God is answering my prayers.

Last month, I emailed several local children’s ministers and just asked if we could all go to lunch. I told them my dream to have a network that we could share ideas, pray for one another, and collaborate on reaching our city.  I wasn’t sure of the response that I would get, but I took a shot. The response was overwhelming. Each of them passionately replied that they were longing for the same type of network.  We were all desiring a place to connect and grow with others who were experiencing the same stuff.  We met for lunch and had a great time.  The discussing ranged from “how can we encourage one another” to “here are the triumphs and trials from my ministry experience” to “where do you buy your crayons.”  It was a refreshing time. We will definitely be making this a regular get-together!

Today, I got a text message from fourfivesix.org about joining a peer group with 5 other preteen ministry leaders from around the country.  We are meeting via conference call every 3rd Wednesday to talk about how God is moving and what is working in preteen ministry.  I am really looking forward to this time of learning and hearing from other ministries.  I think God will use this time to teach us how He wants us to better minister to preteens in Little Rock.  And perhaps what we’re doing here can help someone else in another part of the country.  (If you work with preteens, I encourage you to go to FourFiveSix and sign-up for a peer group! The site is under reconstruction, but keep checking back because it’s worth it.)

God is reminding me of the power of community–to be doing life together. Whether you work in ministry or in another field, take the initiative to make some connections and start developing community.  It will help everyone to grow in their field/job, but it also provides encouragement and friendship that we need to stay passionate about what we’re doing.

My wife, daughter, and I were enjoying lunch today, and then a father-daughter duo came in and sat at the booth next to us. For those who know my nosey tendencies, it comes as no surprise that I was listening in on their conversation.  But I was really blessed as I listened to the father talk to his preteen daughter.

The father talked with the daughter about what she would like to order, and then allowed her to pick the appetizer that they would share.  As they waited for their food, he launched into a conversation about how proud he was of her and how he couldn’t wait to show her mother all the school supplies they picked out.  He pointed to my 11 month old daughter and told his daughter that he remembered when she was that small.  They talked about how much she had changed.  They laughed and talked the whole time.  At one point, I looked over and the father had reached across the table and was holding the hand of his daughter.  She wasn’t pulling away or embarassed, which told me that this was not the first time they had shared a moment like this.  I was impressed and inspired by how this dad had captured the heart of his preteen daughter.

The event just reminded me of the importance for fathers of preteen girls to date their daughters.  By dating your daughter, it builds confidence in who they are maturing to be.  It also helps to set a standard for how they should expect to be treated by men. But most importanly, it opens a line of communication that will allow you to speak into their lives for years to come. 

Dads, if you’re not already doing so, DATE YOUR DAUGHTER!

Take them for breakfast before school
Pick them up from school unexpectedly and go for ice cream
Schedule a Friday night and dress up for dinner and a movie
Keep a regular time each week that is just time for her
Buy her flowers for the date
Always keep the conversation centered on her and your approval of who she is

Father_and_daughter

 

Is it ok to use your smartphone’s Bible app in church?

This may or may not be a hot button issue with others.  It seems to really ruffle the feathers of some who believe that cell phones and other “gadgets” have no place in church.  I can remember a time in the 90s when electronic Bibles were released and had mixed reviews, and it seems to be the same today with smarthphones.  So my question is this:

Should preteens be allowed to use their cell phones in your ministry or should they have to check them at the door?

I’m not sure if my stance is majority or minority, but here it is.  For our ministry, we’ve decided to stop trying to fight against technology and use it to our advantage.  I realize that there must be boundaries and guidelines setup to prevent this from becoming a social media hotspot, but these tools and the appropriate apps can be very beneficial for Bible study.  Here are some reasons why I’ve taken this stance:

1. Children mimic the behaviors of their parents
Look around you at church, at small group, or at work–you’ll see adults (parents) using their mobile devices as their Bible.  Kids also see this behavior and they mimic it.  A Bible app is convenient and always nearby, so why not encourage them to use it.  I think there is something amazing about reading and studying a physical copy of God’s Word.  And it’s even more awesome for a parent to model that behavior for their children.  But why are we trying to fight for one over the other?  Why can’t both exist?

2. Bible apps are easy to use and encourage further reading
The Youversion mobile app is said to be on over 20 million devices.  20 MILLION!!!  That means most of your students have the app on their devices.  That particular app offers various reading plans, keyword searches, related passage searches, and other study tools.  This techno version of Bible study is attracting younger students to go deeper in the Word.  Instead of making preteens throw their cell phones in a box when they get to church, maybe we should teach a whole lesson on who to use them for our daily devotionals.

3. Mobile devices as “Bibles” can encourage preteens to more actively share their faith
Learning to interact with God’s Word on their cell phones can be a perfect avenue for preteens to share their faith with friends.  They can quickly navigate from passage to passage in the Bible app, and share the Gospel with a friend.  I encourage preteens to bookmark passages like the Romans Road in the app, so that they can easily share the Gospel at any point in their daily schedule.

What is your policy on using mobile devices in your ministry?

Considering the prevalence of mobile devices amongst preteens, what are some other ways that we can infuse God’s Word into their daily use of these devices?

Unclesamwantyou

Most of our churches follow the school calendar, which means a new year is right around the corner. The first part of that process is recruiting volunteers–hopefully we’re all done with that part.  We had great success this year with recruiting new volunteers and getting recommitments from existing volunteers.  Don’t get me wrong, we still have spots to fill but we are very thankful for the number of great leaders that we have.  If you’re struggling with recruiting or would just like to hear what we did, I’d love to share details.  You can email me or tweet me @Pastor_MattMo

The second part of the process is much more fun.  This is the time of year when we get to lead, inspire, and train our volunteers.  We are gearing up for a huge volunteer training event next week.  For those that joined the FellowShip Kids “TEAM”, they will get to take part in a huge pep rally style training event.  We will meet for a general session with all volunteers from nursery up to 6th grade.  This will give us the chance to introduce some across-the-board policies and also to cast a vision for the entire FellowShip Kids ministry. 

Following this session, we will break out into volunteer assignments by age group–preschool, 1st thru 4th Grade, 5th & 6th Grade, Surf Shack, Greeters.  Each staff member will get the chance to cast a vision for their specific area to those that have commited to serve in that area.  I have 80-90 volunteers who have committed to serving 1 year or 2 years with preteens.  I have a lot that I want to say, but I’m working to narrow it down to the “irreducible minimum.”  So, I need your help.  Here are a few questions:

If you were volunteering to work with preteens for 1 year, what would be the most helpful thing to hear/know/have?

or

If you’re a leader, what is the most important thing that you tell your volunteers that work with upper elementary or middle school students?

or

If you grew up attending church, who was the most significant teacher/mentor that you ever had and what made them significant? 

Comment below with your responses or send me a tweet with your ideas.