Even though you may find varying statistics on the actual percentages, all studies show that the vast majority of Christians on the planet right now came to faith between the ages of 4 and 14. So for student ministry, this makes the pre-teen years vitally crucial for not only evangelism, but establishing spiritual disciplines, before the high school years set in.
We all know that middle school ministry has a unique set of challenges and both guys and girls are a basket of hormones spilling out everywhere. But it also makes for the optimum time to introduce Christ and His principles into their energetic, wide open lives. If you are a youth leader that feels particularly called to pre-teens, you likely have a firm grasp on what to do, but, for many leaders, this age can be challenging on the patience, often feeling like their attention spans are about 20 seconds.
Here’s some suggestions to help with this age group:
1—Find the people in your church that do feel called to pre-teens. It’s a guarantee that God has placed them in your Church Body, but you have to locate them. You actually might find one or two in your high school group. You could have some more mature, upper classmen that would accept the challenge of coming alongside you to minister to the middle schoolers in your church. So much of effective ministry to this age group is being available, listening, and paying attention. Find those in your church to help you put real focus on your pre-teens as you bring them up in your youth group.
2—Find and use resources targeted directly for pre-teens. They aren’t children, but not yet young adults. Some may be very street savvy already, while others still quite naïve. There are some great tracts, devotional guides, and curriculum that focus on this age group and their spiritual needs.
3—Remember that you are raising your next youth group. It can easily become “oh, yeah, the middle schoolers.” They are going to be your youth ministry focus sooner than later. Developing a strategy for evangelism and discipleship focused on them is going to make your life easier, more productive, and more efficient once they are in the youth group, because you have groomed and trained them to be ready.
If most Christians make a decision by the age of 14, then the Church must place a unique focus on the ages of 10 to 14. You can bet the enemy will do everything to get them safely past the window without making a decision, so you must do everything you can to bring them in and make disciples of each one.
Teach these things and tell everyone to do what you say. Don’t let anyone make fun of you, just because you are young. Set an example for other followers by what you say and do, as well as by your love, faith, and purity. Until I arrive, be sure to keep on reading the Scriptures in worship, and don’t stop preaching and teaching. —1 Timothy 4:11-13 CEV