Don't Let Preteens Mentally "Check Out" in Your Ministry

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**This is a guest post from Nick Diliberto from
With back to school time approaching, the preteen mind transitions out of autopilot mode. The mind now has to stay alert all day during school and for some time afterwards focusing on homework, which can be overwhelming. By the time they come to church on the weekend, they might mentally check out if not properly stimulated.
So, how do you reach the mind of a preteen?
Preteens are moving away from black & white thinking.
They begin to question what they once took for granted as truth. They’ll revisit familiar Bible stories or concepts, asking questions like – How do you know Jesus really healed people? Do all religions lead to God? How do I know for sure that I am a Christian? When putting together a weekend message, begin to move away from black and white teaching. Encourage them to question and explore the Bible, God and Jesus for themselves.
Preteens can wrestle with the tough stuff.
Preteens deal with all kind of issues – divorce, feelings of inferiority, grief, bullying, peer pressure, media overload and tons more. They need help dealing with these issues and the Bible offers a lot of guidance. Furthermore, there is a living and active God who wants to walk with them through the rough times. So, tackle the tough stuff head on.
Preteens can grapple with theology.
They’re ready to grapple with the trinity, incarnation, hermeneutics and other deep theological content. Now, keep it simple and always be creative. You don’t want them falling asleep on you. When you’re relevant in your approach, you’ll enjoy some deep conversations among the preteens in your group. A signpost they’re headed towards owning their faith.
Preteens are turned off by religion, but crave an authentic relationship with Jesus.
Meaningless religious rituals and routines turn off preteens. They don’t want to simply go through the motions, but desire a real relationship with the creator of the Universe. They want to know Jesus as their best friend, learning what it means to follow Him everyday. So, point them to Jesus! They’ll have to take the steps towards Him, but you can show them the way.
Nick Diliberto is the creator of, which provides creative curriculum and resources for preteen ministry. He is also the preteen columnist for Children’s Ministry Magazine.

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