**This is a guest post from Nick Diliberto from PreteenMinistry.net
My 10 year-old son Ethan, plays baseball. His team lost the first game in the playoffs, but they are determined to not give up. In fact, they had practice Memorial Day weekend. The baseball fields are usually packed with kids of all ages on any given Saturday. But they were all cancelled due to the holiday. As I dropped him off, I looked out to all the empty baseball fields. It suddenly dawned on me that his team was the only one practicing that day. It wasn’t a light practice either – they were on the field for over 2 hours. Furthermore, the players were glad to be there and showed lots of enthusiasm. No matter what happens in the next game – win or lose – the players on Ethan’s team know the meaning of going the extra mile.
Here are two ways you can go the extra mile in preteen ministry:
Effective leaders go the extra mile when it comes to understanding preteens. Preteens are a unique group that requires a unique approach to ministry. We can’t just lump them in with a wide age range of children and expect to be effective. Maximizing our impact, we design an approach to reaching them that meets their developmental changes – relationally, spiritually, physically, mentally and socially. We set ourselves up for success when we research how preteens learn, interact with the world and relate to each other. We do the hard work of figuring out how to design a ministry that best reaches preteens in our church’s context. Space, lack of volunteers and number of elementary kids are often an obstacle to creating a compelling ministry to preteens. However, understanding what makes them tick maximizes our impact.
Preteens need leaders who go the extra mile with them relationally. They want leaders who know what’s going on in their lives – at home, school and with friends. They crave leaders who will pray with them and invest in them, regardless of where they’re at with God. Preteens need leaders who show up every week and know their successes, failures and doubts. They need leaders who accept them as-is and don’t look at them as projects to change.