**This is a guest post from Nick Diliberto from PreteenMinistry.net
The beginning of the year is a great time to help preteens connect with God. With another year in full swing, students are open to new challenges and experiences. Use these ideas to connect preteens to Jesus:
Encourage preteens to journal. Consider buying a journal for each student. Start off each service allowing preteens a few minutes to write in it. Instruct them to write down the good things that have happened over the past week, prayer requests and anything else on their minds. Journaling is a powerful tool, allowing students to pause and reflect on what God is doing in their lives.
Another idea to have preteens make a diorama of what God did in their lives in 2012. Have preteens bring a shoebox one weekend to church. You provide the rest of the supplies, such as: craft sticks, construction paper, markers, paint, glue, scissors, etc. Before creating the diorama, ask preteens these questions to get them thinking: What were the highlights of 2012 at your home, school and with friends? What was the coolest thing that happened to you in 2012? Then have them make the diorama. Allow 15 minutes for them to create it, then allow students to share with others.
There will always be a percentage of preteens in your group that want to go deeper in their relationship with God. Your job is to provide them opportunities for spiritual growth. The best approach is to use the power of choice. Offer students an optional weekly challenge. If the lesson is on reading the Bible, give students some verses to look up, read, and apply. If it is on service, challenge them to find one person the following week to serve. If it is on loving your enemies, challenge preteens to pray for the school bully. The key is to make it optional, that way it isn’t forced, and the ones who accept the challenge are deciding on their own to take steps towards God.