**This is a guest post from Nick Diliberto from PreteenMinistry.net
In my last post, I offered many reasons for small churches (or church plants) to launch a preteen ministry. In this post, I’m going to share a few ways they can effectively reach preteens.
1. Split up preteens for weekend services. Ideally, it’s the best way to go. If preteens meet separately, you can design programming and an environment that is age specific. As a result, you maximize impact. However, not every small church has the resources to do so. If that’s you, read on.
2. Launch a midweek group. Midweek is a great tool to reach preteens. It provides the environment for relationships to flourish, spiritual growth to excel and newcomers to be reached. It is also a great alternative if you don’t have the resources to meet separately on Sundays.
3. Have relational events. Peer relationships are a priority for preteens. They’re attracted to an environment that revolves around making and being with friends. Having relational preteen events can meet that need. Some ideas: laser tag, game night, sleepover, bowling, water inflatable party, Nerf Wars (lots of Nerf guns and night of battle) and a swim party. Think simple and easy. The idea is to get them together and have fun. No need to be over the top.
4. Train preteens to be leaders. Preteens want to serve. They want to help. So, recruit and train them to be leaders. Have them help out with younger kids for Sunday services and special events. Be sure to train them well. Don’t just throw them out to the wolves. Take time to be clear about their specific role and responsibilities. Point out what they’re doing well and help them improve on their weaknesses.
5. Go to camp. Preteens have life-changing experiences at camp. Partner with other churches in your area and share the responsibilities of doing your own camp. That way, it doesn’t all fall on your shoulders. Or bring your group to a camp that provides all the programming. That way, you and your leaders spend time connecting with students.
6. Launch small groups. Small groups are great for preteens because of their relational nature. Do them at church, homes or coffee shops. They can be a means to reach many goals: discipleship, relationship or outreach. Whatever form or location you chose will most likely be effective. Why. Because preteen small groups are effective!
7. Come up with a name. Naming the ministry creates a group identity. Give it a name and preteens identify with the ministry. Think about it. Your favorite football team, restaurant and ice cream has a name. Everything has a name. Let preteens help you come up one. Trust me, they’ll come up with better ideas than you :)
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.