Pre-service Ideas

I’m so excited!  This is the beginning of a new season of consistent blogging for, God willing.  Hooray! 

Now…our goal in the community is to help your preteen ministry take the next step.  So, why not start this new season where our services start – with a few blogs that will help you take your next step in pre-service

Pre-Service: The time from when the preteens start to check-in to when service starts.

This time is easily overlooked or becomes routine and mundane for preteen ministries.  I know it has for ours from time to time.

But our ministry goals for this time segment are so important:

Goals for Pre-Service: Connecting and engaging the preteens and leaders with one another and setting the stage for a successful service.

Now, whether you are brand new to preteen ministry, or you stumbled across this blog post looking for a couple of ideas because your pre-service has become routine and mundane, or you’re ready to completely revolutionize your pre-service and are looking for a starting point, I hope that this and the next few blog posts are a blessing to you.


I decided to start our blog series on pre-service by asking the FourFiveSix advisory committee one simple question:

 What ONE pre-service activity or concept has been the biggest win for your preteen ministry?

I received 5 answers.  Here they are, in random order:

1. CHIP said:

We have several “pre-activities” set up throughout our preteen area. I know you asked for one, but I’m giving you a bunch:

  1. Gaga ball pit: By far the most popular.
  2. Dodge ball arena: one of our classroom has all the chairs and tables cleared out and students mostly just chuck balls at each other and don’t play a game.
  3. Snack Shack: Students can purchase pizza, non-caffeinated sodas, or candy for $1. We sell about $150 of product a week.
  4. Chill Room: tables are set up with chairs in a quiet room where preteens can just go chill, eat and talk. (No craziness allowed in the chill room).
  5. Hula Hoops: dozens of girls do this every week.
  6. “Ask 5 People”: We have a question that is posted on the screen that you have to ask 5 different people to answer. Gets preteens talking and then in the opener a few can stand up and share what someone else said.

To pick one though, the gaga ball pit for boys, and the chill room for girls have been major wins.

2. HEATHER said:

When I was at Cherry Hills, we offered a variety of options, active games on one side of the gym (basketball and wall ball were the ones the kids started without prodding, sometimes there would be a corner with volleyball without a net) and the other side were round tables with other options (Legos and crafts were the favorites, though there was one older woman, affectionately called the Ducky Lady, who quizzed kids on memory verses and gave out little rubber duckies as prizes and another older gentleman who always brought word search puzzles with prizes for those who completed them.  Surprisingly, the two tables manned by the older people with prizes were extremely popular.)



3. MIKE said:

I have a hard time counting . . . so I have a top three.

#1: Dry Erase Walls

We painted large sections of the walls in the area where students hang out before service with IdeaPaint.  Every week we have people writing notes, drawing everything from stick figures to very artistic images, and preteens having all kinds of fun with dry erase markers.  Part of the fun is that they get to write on the walls!  We just set out markers and erasers before service and let creativity do the rest!


Video & Free eBook showcasing IdeaPaint in action at their headquarters:

#2: GaGa Ball

This is a game that is believed to have originated in Israel.  It is similar to dodgeball but moves at a faster pace and has a more equal playing field.  Our preteens love it as it is active fun, competitive, and moves so fast that if you get out, you’ll be back in soon.

Coach Cliff’s GaGa Ball:

#3: Nine-Square-In-The-Air

This is another active option that levels the competitive playing field, mixing volleyball with four-square.  Nine people can be playing at one time.  There is also a quick turnover from the time you get out until the time you get back in the game.  Students will line up and wait for the opportunity to play this.

9 Square in the Air:


4. PATRICK said:

 9 square in the air and a nail painting area. At the nail painting area the preteen girls sit, paint their nails, and connect with each other and their leaders. I’ve seen this be very successful.


5. NICK said:

Here’s my one thought…

 Leaders connecting with preteens is more important than the activities you provide. Focus more on training leaders to connect with preteens during the pre-service activities. Focus less on what activities you provide.



Now this gave me a lot to think about (starting with, why does almost everybody on the FourFiveSix team have trouble counting to ONE. J).  I hope that their responses gave you a great starting point for thinking about how you might bring your pre-service time to the next level as well.


I want to finish this blog by piggy backing on something Nick brings up – if the whole point of improving the activities for pre-service isn’t aimed at the goal (Connecting and engaging the preteens and leaders with one another and setting the stage for a successful service) then there really is no point. 

 HOWEVER, I do think we can improve the pre-service activities IN ORDER TO ACCOMPLISH the goal.  Much more about this in the next two blog posts.


SO – how about you:

 What ONE pre-service activity or concept has been the biggest win for your preteen ministry?

 Leave a comment below and let us know.

4 thoughts on “Pre-service Ideas

  1. I would have to say that my current class is divided. Boys play what ever video game system we have set up, Wii Mario Cart is our current hit (Retro for them). Girls love the hang out area, our female youth leaders hangout with them and just talk with them.(Relationship building)

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