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preteen text

Next time you’re sitting in a public place, count the number of people who are using their phones to text. I bet you lose count!

Texting is quickly becoming the #1 form of communication. Good or bad (that’s a topic for another day), it is the truth. This is especially true among preteens. In early 2008, Pew Research Center found that 51% of 12-year olds had cell phones. I can only imagine that this number has increased in the last 4 years.

According to research cited by Common Sense Media, texting is the #2 use for all cell phones behind checking the time! The research also shows that preteens (age 9 to 12) send and average of 1,146 texts per month. That’s more than 37 texts per day!

Texting is changing the way preteens communicate with one another. Should it change the way we communicate with preteens?

Here’s the question that I’ve been mulling over for the last few weeks:

Can text messaging be used constructively in preteen ministry?

I’m interested in hearing from those that have used text messaging in student ministry and/or preteen ministry. I have some concerns about using text messages with 9 to 12 year olds, but I can see value in being able to communicate things like weekly devotions, small group questions, updates about service projects or events, etc.

What do you think? Is text messaging beneficial to preteen ministry or is it a slippery slope that should be avoided?


This past Sunday, we invited students from our High School ministry to come and share with our preteens. We asked them to share specifically about their experiences in Middle School and High School.

I wish we would’ve filmed the interaction, but here are a few quotes from the High School students:

“Be careful what you listen to. What goes in your ears will come out of your mouth.”

“You always have a friend in God.”

“Watch what you say. You never know how it will affect someone.”

“We’re not perfect. Don’t think that. We’re still struggling with the same things and trying to figure it out.”

“This is not the end. Eternity is the end.”

It was amazing to watch the preteens (boys and girls) be glued to the High School students. They were hanging on every word out of the students’ mouths. After the Q&A with the students, preteens went off to small groups. Several of the Small Group Mentors said it was one of the best small group sessions they’ve had. They said the kids were so talkative and repeating back all they had heard from the High School students.

I’m so thankful that God moved in this service. We will definitely do it again in the near future. After the service, I jotted down a few notes and a couple of thoughts. As I looked back over my notes, I’m really left with 2 big questions regarding preteen ministry.

How are we preparing preteens for something bigger than the issues of right now?

A 12th grade girl made the comment, “This is not the end. Eternity is the end.” She explained that good things and bad things will happen, but the most important thing is a relationship with Jesus Christ. It was such a great statement. It made me think about how we need to spend more time focusing on the big picture with preteens. We focus on the issues they face, and I think that is good. But they also need to be reminded of the awesome God that created them, loves them, and uses them for His glory.

How can we use the experiences and wisdom of teenagers in preteen ministry?

I was absolutely blown away at the maturity and wisdom of the teenagers. They shared great advice from a place of humility and honesty. As I watched the preteens, they were completely engaged. For those of you that work with preteens, you know how rare that is! I’m not sure how, but we need to find ways to use the experiences and wisdom of teenagers in preteen ministry.

What do you think?

Parent Meeting

No matter what age group you minister to—children, preteens, or students—parental involvement is essential. Parents need to know about your ministry so they feel confident that it is safe and secure. They also need to know how you will equip them and call them to disciple their sons and daughters.

One of the best ways to communicate vision and strategy with parents is to host a Parent Meeting. Bringing parents together in one room can be very beneficial, but it takes planning to be effective. Here is a basic outline for how to plan your next parent meeting.

Step 1—Invite Parents

Guess what? Parents won’t know about the meeting unless you invite them! Send out an invitation (via print or email) at least 1 month in advance. Give them plenty of notice so that they can make the meeting a priority in their schedule. Try attaching some meeting details to the invite. Let them know what the meeting is about and why it is so important for them to be present. Be careful not to give too much away! The best invite will communicate two things to parents: urgency and mystery.

Step 2—Create a “Wow” Environment

You may only have one chance to connect with a parent, so make it count. Use videos, bulletin boards, or testimonies to highlight what God is doing in your ministry. Make the room comfortable and provide refreshments. Who doesn’t love some warm cookies??

Step 3—Keep Content Limited and Focused

A parent meeting is not the time to try to cover everything you’ve ever wanted to tell parents. Try to focus on one topic that is relevant to your audience. For example, you might have a parent meeting that trains parents on how to have a family devotion or how to share the Gospel with specific ages. Other focused topics might be specific to your ministry vision or strategy. If you need to cover multiple topics with parents, it may be better to consider a parent retreat or a parent discipleship class that meets over several weeks.

Step 4—Leave Room for Discussion

Every group of parents I’ve ever met with has requested more opportunities to talk about issues with other parents. Talking with one another helps parents to get ideas and share their stories. It also helps them to see that they are not alone in their struggles and failures. Encourage parents to break into small groups and discuss the information covered in the meeting. Provide some discussion questions for the parents, and ask them to end by praying for one another in their groups.

Step 5—Provide Action Steps and Follow-Up

When the meeting is over, it will feel like a huge success—mainly because it’s over and one with! However, the true test is whether or not the meeting led parents to take action. Give some specific action steps and ideas for parents during the meeting, and follow-up with them 3-6 months later.

Here’s an example of action steps and follow-up. We hosted a parent meeting last spring on the topic of adolescent transition and sexual purity. At the end of the meeting, we gave parents a copy of Passport 2 Purity to use with their child. We asked parents to schedule a purity weekend with their preteen sometime this year, and then send us testimonies about their weekend once it was complete. It’s amazing to read the emails we’ve already received from families that have taken that step. At 6 months (mid-November), we will follow-up with all parents and remind them about the call to take that step with their preteen. Instead of a one-time meeting, we’ve managed to create a year-round conversation. It’s all about the follow-up!

If you haven’t hosted a parent meeting in your ministry, I strongly encourage you to do so. Parents need to have a major role in your ministry if you want to be effective. Parents have far greater influence and time than anyone in your ministry, so find a way to connect with them and leverage that influence for good!

Think Before You Speak

September 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

Scrabble-words
In our Back 2 School series, we talked with preteens about the power of their words. Words have the power to be destructive, or they can be an encouraging witness of our faith. We asked leaders and preteens to consider 3 questions before they speak. Here are the three questions:

true wordsLuke 16:10 says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Our words need to be true so that they can build others up and strengthen our relationships.

encouraging wordsEphesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Even when there is not much to be positive about, find something uplifting to say that will encourage the person to keep growing.

Witness WordsColossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” God desires for you to use your words to build up others not tear them down. The main reason for this is so that they will see Jesus in your speech and want to know more about Him.

Words are powerful. How can we encourage preteens to think before they speak?