Think about this for a moment: If you and I were called to minister to people in Siberia, we’d probably learn the language and the culture. For at least two reasons:
- It would allow us to connect God’s truths to them in a more meaningful and clear way.
- It would demonstrate that we actually care about them and their day-to-day reality.
I was once told that before I preach to any audience, I need to pray for that audience. But it’s hard to pray for people that I don’t know anything about.
What do you know about the preteens in your ministry? What are they into? What’s their language? What’s the newest craze? What’s their biggest worry right now? What are they talking about on the play ground?
It’s not the craze that matters. Really. That will be gone before you know it. Remember Shape Bracelets? Hot Loops? Kendama? Pokémon Go? They are all out (or on their way out). Even last year’s Whip and Nae Nae seems a little dated to many 6th graders.
The thing about learning the preteen “language” and culture is that it’s always changing. You can plan a service around dabbing this year, but don’t expect that it will be cool next year (or even in 3 months).
It’s not the dabbing, or the bottle flipping, or PPAP, or the memes, or the mannequin challenge that matters. What matters is that you’re listening. And you care about what they care about. What matters is you know who you are praying for, and preaching to. What matters is that you connect Jesus to their world and their day to day experience. So that he can be the Saving King of their hearts.
There’s so many ways to do this. Come up with some kind of bottle flipping station during pre-service. Invite the preteens to add dabbing moves into your worship motions. Instead of playing opening games, have an opening CHALLENGE (the “don’t laugh” challenge, the “Say Anything” Challenge, etc. – there are no end of these on YouTube right now).
Since Music.ly and lip-syncing shows are big right now, our preteen ministry has challenged the junior high ministry to a lip-sync battle on February 1st during a series about imitation.
There are so many ways to infuse the culturally relevant with the Biblically sound. It might not come naturally for you, even though you want to speak to preteens in their language, and you want to connect them to God’s truth. It’s much easier for us to share the gospel using references that are important and have meaning to us.
But that’s like going to a small Siberian town and using references to the Fourth of July in English as your method of sharing the Gospel.
Now certainly, with preteens, there are some things that will never change. Things that were true when I was a preteen that are still true today. The uncertainty of these years. The growing brain capacity and independence of these years. The desire to be industrious.
So connect to preteens with these things. But then listen when they talk. What’s the newest fad. The newest fear (clowns?). The newest lingo. Connect to preteens with these things to. Think about Paul’s words:
“To those outside the law I became as one outside the law…that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.”
Don’t do it so that you can be cool. Do it because you care about connecting the preteens in your ministry, where they are at right now, to the eternal truths of Scripture.
I’ll be praying for you, that God would Bless you in 2017 as he uses you to connect preteens to God!
What trends are you seeing with your preteens?? Share in the comment section below! Here are some of the responses sent in from preteen ministry leaders like you:
Preteen Trends (shared by the FourFiveSix community):
- Mostly all of them have cell phones. So Snapchat and Instagram are a craze.
- They use the phrases, “LIT” and “HMU” a lot.
- We did a worship style manaquin challenge when that was in.
- Whatever the youth do, they do.
- They are like mini millennials. They go get coffee at Starbucks. They worried about health and fitness.
- They love 5k runs if it has something fun like Bubbles, balloons or color chalk.
- They are at the stage where they either hate boys (vice versa) or are just finding them interesting.
- TPing or pranks will always be in.
- I have found that outside games at night are fun for them because it is something they don’t always get to do. So I have played capture the flag, sardines, and other night games with them.
- Pocket T-shirts
- Super Mario Run, still Clash Royale
- Trump… (they love to say something is HUGE!)
- Stance socks.
- Salty Crew.
- Ethika underwear
- Fighting for social media accounts
Add your observations of preteen trends to the comment section below.