Our preteen ministry falls under our youth ministry. Part of what I get to do is help with our youth ministry. We just did a series that was inspired by a junior boy asking a question. The question is not important, but what hit me was soon after I had similar questions asked by our preteens. That prompted a question: “What are we doing that lets a 4th grader not be afraid to ask a hard question, what haven’t we done that a junior waited to 11th grade to ask the same question?”
I have been doing preteen ministry for around 8-9 years now. The one thing that has never changed is that fact preteens will ask some of the best and funniest questions ever. I have had leaders ask me how to keep our preteens from asking questions all the time. My answer is always with a question, “Why would I do that?” I am very serious the I do that.
I think we get wrapped up in the teaching part of the ministry and forget about the relational part. The only way we build relationships is by getting to know someone. We can only do that by spending time with them and asking them about themselves. So why is asking questions about God, the Bible, Jesus any different? I teach all my leaders some very basic concepts they come into ministry. These concepts have created an environment that kids are not afraid to wait to ask the tough questions.
If you’re talking more than your kids, you doing it wrong.
One of the things that happen when someone becomes a small group leader is, they feel they need to talk all the time. If you are always talking, when do your kids get to talk? The best small group leaders create conversations, create opportunities by asking open-ended questions to lead to more questions.
It’s ok if you don’t know all the answers.
It really is ok to say “I don’t know.” If a preteen asks a question you don’t know the answer to that can be the best moments in your group. Don’t be upset that you don’t know everything I mean who does. Just make sure you help them find out the answer. Either by doing it together, finding out on your own and coming back to them, or my personal favorite having them go to mom and dad to figure out. All of these still require to follow up, we never want the students to feel we just pushed them off.
I love preteen ministry because it’s the setup and beginning to when our student starts to own a personal relationship with Jesus. I said earlier that we only get to know someone by asking them questions about who they are or try and understand why they do things the way they do. Then we decide how much of a relationship we want to have with them and that is different for everyone. Our relationship with Jesus is no different, we need to get to know him personally. Ask questions about Him or why he does what he does and what he doesn’t do. Only then is our relationship with Him truly ours’s, not one someone told us to have but because we own it personally. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions, but even more, don’t be afraid of getting asked the tough questions.
ROBERT QUINN: Preteen Minister Director Hopevale Church Saginaw Michigan. On the FourFiveSix.org Advisory board, writer for FourFiveSix Deeply Rooted curriculum, XP3 Middle School curriculum contributor. Spend most of my time thinking about preteen ministry and how to help them start to own their own faith. Jesus follower, Husband, Father, and dog lover. Finally and most important a fan of The Ohio State Buckeyes.