An Interview with Stephen Hibdon, J12 Creative Director
We have heard a lot about J12’s leadership program for preteens. There are few preteen resources on the subject. Talk to us about J12’s approach to student leadership and why it is working.
About 3 years ago, we published a program called L7, which challenges preteens to “live the 7” words Jesus said when He was 12 years old which were, “I must be about my Father’s business.”
It immediately caught traction with preteen ministries in churches because of it’s unique approach and comprehensive way of discipling and teaching preteens leadership at the same time.
How many students have gone through L7 at the launch church and approximately how many churches run an L7 program with their preteens?
The launch church was The Rock in Anaheim. They continue to offer it twice a year and there is a waiting list every time with over 100 students in each session. There are about 200 churches hosting L7 programs in 40 states and 3 countries this year.
What would it look like in a typical local church setting in terms of time, duration, and schedule?
The L7 Director’s Guide explains how to plan, promote, and facilitate every aspect of the leadership program. Typically though it is a strategy offered on a different occasion than a regular service with a select group of students who sign up and pay a fee to participate. The class lasts for 4 weeks with enough content in the curriculum for 3 hours each opportunity they are together. The time is divided into sessions of practical training, hands on learning, and various other elements that disciple and teach leadership skills. The fifth week is a graduation ceremony where they are celebrated with friends and family and welcomed into a leadership role in the ministry.
Why do you think it has been so effective with preteens in churches across the U.S. and even other countries?
One reason, I believe, is because of it’s exclusive focus on preteens and their development as leaders in the world around them. We also hear often that the accountability requirements and uniquely high standard of discipline the students are held to during the course becomes life transforming. Parents are constantly approaching the L7 leaders that run the program with tears in their eyes and gratitude for what L7 did for their kids in coming to a place of owning their faith.
What are some of the takeaways a preteen has when they graduate?
They will discover their IDENTITY in Christ.
They will learn LIFE PRINCIPLES for spending daily time with Jesus.
They will be trained in MINISTRY elements that propel them in leadership.
They will be equipped to SERVE where they are gifted in the church.