A huge focus of my music is preteen ages. Mostly 4th, 5th & 6th grade students. A lot of people in culture have named this group “tween”. I’m personally not a big fan of that word cause well, I think it sounds kiddy. So, I’ll stick to calling them preteens 🙂 I spend a lot of time throughout the year doing special events and leading worship and concerts for this special age group that’s not little kids but well, not quite teenagers either. More and more churches are giving extra focus to this special age group which is so awesome. Preteens have some specific needs that traditional kids program don’t always meet. It’s important that we bridge the gap between kids church and students entering the “youth group”. Many churches have special classes for this age that do their own services. For others due to lack of building space do special events and programs outside of normal service times for preteens. However you do it and when you do it is not important. What is important is that you meet these students where they are at. Show them that the Bible and Jesus are relevant to their life today in 2011 and He’ll be relevant next year and in ten years and twenty years and so on and so on. You get the point.
In the Bible, Jesus shared a parable with us. I believe this is a great passage to consider when taking a look at preteen ministry. Take a look at Luke 15:4-7 (MSG)
“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.”
Don’t you think Jesus would do whatever He could to be relevant to every age? If 80% of the kids in the class needs were being met but there was another 20% struggling along don’t you think Jesus would find a way to reach that other 20%? I think so. The preteen students in your church maybe need a few things changed to reach them….but the payoff is huge. As you invest in them it will only help your middle school ministry become more effective. Crisis adverted vs. crisis created.
I met Nick Diliberto a few years back at a preteen ministry conference. He has a huge heart for preteen ministry. He used to be in Louisiana and now is in San Diego doing all he can to reach preteens. At http://www.preteenministry.net he has some great resources for preteen ministry. So take some time to look at his blog and podcasts. Sign up for his e-newsletter. He has a great resource that will give you a plethora of games and relationship building events. There’s even curriculum written specifically for this age group. I think you’ll find something he offers a huge blessing to your mission to reach preteens and let them know that Jesus loves them and has an amazing plan for their life.
Have a great weekend friends…..Keep marching on in search of the lost sheep!