**This is a guest post from Nick Diliberto from PreteenMinistry.net
1. Customize curriculum
Give up the idea of a cookie cutter approach to preteen curriculum. Preteens respond best when lessons are customized. Use examples of real life situations where you struggled or had a success with the given topic. Take into consideration your specific community, church and preteens when editing lessons. Yes, curriculum is good. But it is most effective when leaders make it their own.
2. Add the fun factor
Preteens love to have fun. So, why not have fun in church? If you bore them, you’ll lose them. But when church is a fun place, they’ll wake up with excitement on Sunday mornings eagerly anticipating what’s in store for them
3. Use active learning
Gone are the days when preteens sit in a chair and just listen to a children’s sermon. Inject active learning elements that get preteens moving around (they have a lot of energy) and experiencing the lesson using all five senses.
4. Ask lots of questions
Preteens learn a lot by discussing questions about life, God, Jesus and the Bible. Help them use critical thinking by asking open-ended questions. Allow them to process the day’s topic by asking their own questions. Train small group leaders to facilitate discussion. Encourage students to give their thoughts on a question of a peer. Create a culture of asking questions.
5. Be relevant to their world
Gone are the days of flannel graphs and puppets when reaching preteens. Instead, communicate the timeless message of the Bible using methods that are relevant to their world. Use media, narrative, popular video game illustrations and anything else that comes to mind. Know the world preteens live in and meet them there. Speak their language.
6. Infuse media
Media is a powerful tool. Use video clips from current movies (stick to PG), YouTube videos, TV show clips, music videos and anything else you can think of to help drive home the point. Stay up to date on all the current media your preteens are engaged with and use it to your advantage. Media has the power to instantly grab the attention of preteens.
7. Be prepared
You might be able to get away with being unprepared when teaching younger age groups, but not preteens. They’ll sense you’re not on your game and eat your lunch. Avoid reading from a script as well (it’s a turn off). Use notes as a guideline and always be prepared for the unexpected.
8. Mix It Up
As often as possible, mix up the order & method of your weekend service. If you normally do a game at the beginning of a lesson, do a game at the end every so often. Routine is good, but too much predictability and preteens will disengage.
9. Be creative
Spice it up and try something new every once in awhile. If you’ve never done a drama, try it. If you’ve always wanted to decorate your room and have it relate to the theme your teaching, go for it. As always, recruit a team to help.
10. Keep it simple
Simplicity focuses a lesson. No need for 3-4 main points. Instead focus on one main point and use a few creative elements to reinforce it. You’re not teaching systematic theology, so break down big Biblical ideas into bit size chunks.
Nick Diliberto is creator of PreteenMinistry.net, which provides creative curriculum and resources for preteen ministry. He is also the preteen columnist for Children’s Ministry Magazine and Children’s Pastor at Seven San Diego Church.