Youth Ministry has been around possibly longer than you might think…about 150 years. The earliest youth ministries were developed with the goal of educating young men in the wake of the industrial revolution. The Christian Endeavor Society was one of the first to offer Bible study, social events and outreach. Dr. Francis Edward Clark began this project in 1881. In the 1940’s Para church organizations began to spring up, like Young Life, founded by Jim Rayburn in 1941. The 1960’s saw campus ministries take the lead. The 1970’s saw a revival of mainstream churches interest in youth ministries. In the 1980’s counseling became the rage of many youth ministries. The 1990’s brought a focus on international interaction between many unique organizations with a goal of meeting the needs of teenagers. Youth Ministry today has become a part of the fabric of Christianity in the church. So what’s the next must have ministry?
Preteen Ministry is beginning to get recognition as the “must have” ministry in churches today. So what is fueling this move to create a step between Children’s Ministry and Youth Ministry? As with most youth ministry there are societal changes that are pushing the church to rethink it’s approach. Our students continue to be exposed to more “adult” issues at a younger and younger age. Include with that the continuous onslaught of commercialism and a consumer mentality and you have the combination that demands a fresh look at how we do ministry to adolescents.
Preteens are in a state of flux. The decisions they make right now will have long-lasting implications about the adults our children eventually become. Preteens need to be reached as who they are Preteens. They are not ready for “adult” issues and they still find getting messy is fun. However, they desire to be involved in something that is uniquely designed for them. So what are some steps we can take to begin to reach this incredibly important age group?
- Recognize the need for something NEW
- Recognize the specific needs of this age group – 4th, 5th, & 6th graders
- Assemble a team of adults willing to invest in this age group
- Brainstorm a unique identity for this group
- Design a program that includes high-energy worship, interactive teaching & small group study
- Begin to provide events and activities specifically for this group
The first step may be the hardest. If you have a successful Children’s and Youth Ministry it may be tough to get others to see the need. If that is the case begin doing research and study the statistics that cry out for answers. Take a look a ministries that are succeeding in this age group. Ask God to give you inspiration and direction for this new endeavor. Let me know what you are doing to reach and minister to Preteens by leaving a Comment!