Archives For preteen ministry

It is really hard for me to fathom that I’ve stuck with this for a whole year. I’m not usually that disciplined.

There are tons of reasons why I started blogging and many reasons why I continue to do so. The most important of which is to network with other preteen, children’s, and student ministry leaders on how we can be more effective at reaching the next generation. I have to admit that I started blogging because I thought I might have something to offer, but in this first year I have been blessed with so much more than I could ever give. (What an example of God and His Grace!)

Here are the things that I’m most thankful for from Year #1:

1. New Friends
Blogging has connected me with so many great leaders that I probably would have never had the chance to meet. I’ve met people who are asking my advice (not many), and I’ve met people who have passed on loads of wisdom to me. It is such a blessing to get to build these relationships that help me personally and in ministry. To all my new friends, “Thank you!”

2. New Ideas
This past year has been one of the most fun and most fruitful years of ministry in my life. God has brought so many people into my life to share new ideas, and this has really stretched me. We’ve all tried some things that don’t work, and we’ve all found a few golden nuggets here and there. It’s such a blessing to be able to sit down with other leaders and share those ministry ideas.

3. New Opportunities
Ok, so I totally did not see this one coming. I felt God calling me to take a risk and throw my ideas out for others to read and discuss, so I took the risk. Never in my wildest dreams did I think those thoughts would go further than my wife and maybe a few friends. Instead, those thoughts have reached to 13 different countries. I’ve gotten emails from missionaries in Africa…AFRICA! I never knew what God would do with the blog, but he has used it to open new doors. In the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to do some writing for Preteenministry.net, FourFiveSix, Lifeway Christian Resources, Kidmin360, and others. I’ve gotten the opportunity to go and speak at churches and the Preteen Leaders Conference. God has used blogging to bless me and my family is some really cool ways.

Here comes Year #2!
This year, I want to continue what we’ve done in year #1, but I also want to grow into providing some resources and materials for those launching a preteen ministry.

We are getting ready to launch a floor-to-ceiling overhaul of our preteen ministry. We’re changing our strategy, our room, and pretty much everything in-between. This is going to be an exciting transformation for our church. In this process, we’re learning some things to do and some things not to do, so I look forward to sharing some of what we learn about launching a preteen ministry.

This video was released about 8 months ago as a part of a training initiative from CCB (Church Community Builder). I have always appreciated the humility and passion of Francis Chan, and you can see his heartfelt concern in this video.

There is truth in his message. As a young pastor, I know that I struggle with wanting popularity and success. I want people to be impressed by my teaching. God has taught me a valuable lesson over the last year, and that is this: My teaching should not impress people, it should connect them with the power of God and urge them to move in action!

This means I must spend more time thinking through a strategy of calling people out and allowing room for the Holy Spirit to move in them. I’m not all the way there yet, but I’m thankful for what God is teaching me. And I’m thankful for pastors like Francis Chan that take time to speak truth to young pastors like myself.

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?