While not all great ministry models look the same, I believe there are four core ingredients to embed into any preteen ministry to take it to the next level. I call these four ingredients the secret sauce.
4 Ingredients to Take Your Preteen Ministry to the Next Level
Recruit caring teachers.
This might seem obvious, but rather than concentrating our volunteers’ efforts on maintaining control of our big kids, we focus on volunteers’ relationships with preteens. Kids must listen to parents, and they’re supposed to listen to teachers. But they will listen to a volunteer who consistently shows care.
So how are you modeling care to your volunteers? Train volunteers to prioritize listening and genuine relationships over rules and regulations.
Make it Jesus-centered.
It’s easy to unintentionally put ourselves at the center of the ministries we lead. When we make Jesus’ love for preteens the true center, we set aside our personal goals, our image, and our success. Regularly ask yourself if your plan and program is Jesus-centered—or if your focus is elsewhere.
How are you regularly evaluating and identifying the purpose behind aspects of your program to ensure they’re all about exalting Jesus?
Develop a group of positively influencing peers.
No matter how cool and relevant you and your 23-year-old volunteer are, preteens will go out of their way to try to impress their peers. Be intentional about pinpointing influential preteens who can take on leadership roles in your group. Concentrate some of your efforts on guiding those influencers to have a deeper impact on your group as a whole.
Who can you develop as leaders, and when and how will you do it?
Laughing together, playing together, and enjoying being together is the glue. Use this glue to connect preteens to their leaders, the church, and most importantly, Jesus. Brainstorm with your volunteers to find funny videos, jokes, stories, games, and interactive experiences to include in your program.
Then ask yourself: Who can help me think up fun elements? Who’s the best leader to engage the kids?
These four core ingredients are your secret sauce. How do you plan to incorporate them into your preteen program, starting today?
Brandon Early is director of student ministries at Valley Church in West Des Moines, Iowa.
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