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Written by Ryan Senters
This summer I started a student leadership program for 6th graders. The goal was to start to equip them as servant leaders with their friends and family, at their school, and at church. We are just a couple months into the official launch of this new program but I can say I am thankful I gave student leadership a shot. I have already seen the fruit of investing in our student leaders as they are making a huge impact in the ministry and their schools.
Here is what we did:
1. In April, upcoming 6th graders applied to be a student leader by filling out an application and a list of commitments and expectations with their parents.
2. In May, all students were interviewed (yes, interviewed). It was very official to help them understand the importance of the commitment and to teach them about responsibility. Some were nervous, but they all did a great job. I wrote each of the 20 students who applied an acceptance letter.
3. In June, student leaders got to help with our Kidz Kamp (VBS) by leading on stage games and skits. This was the first opportunity for leadership and they rose to the occasion. Their whole demeanor changed when they knew they were leading. They were helpful, excited, and even “somewhat” responsible. Our whole team was so proud of them!
4. In August, we had our overnight student leadership retreat. This was a huge success. We had times of preteen craziness (marshmallow gun war), team building, and lessons on leadership and humility. They caught the vision of what it means to be a leader and this is when things really took off.
5. Currently, they are all part of a student leader small group that meets weekly. They also help run our snack bar, check-in students, greet new students, and serve in our children’s ministry. They have really stepped up to what it means to be a servant leader.
Moreover, one of my 6th grade boys just started at a new school, and he is working with his principal to start a Christian club there! So cool!
If you haven’t thought about starting some form of student leadership program I highly recommend you consider it. I can say with certainty that this program has become a vital part of our preteen ministry.
If you have any questions or want more details give me a shout.
Ryan Senters lives in Chandler, AZ with his wife where they raise their 2 year old daughter and 1 year old foster son. Ryan has worked with youth from 5th grade to college students and he is currently the preteen pastor for 250+ students at Cornerstone Chandler.Tweet
Check out our full selection of cool preteen curriculum here: preteenministry.net/preteen-curriculum. Our preteen curriculum is Biblical, relevant, creative and fun!
What if you’ve already purchased some of the series included in the combo pack? After the purchase, we’ll swap out any series of your choice for free. We’re feeling so generous that if there are other series you want not included in the combo pack, we’ll swap them out for free too. After purchase, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org the series you want to swap out.Tweet
A note from Nick: I want to introduce you to Rozanna Leever, who sent me an email regarding how the preteens in her group made a difference in Peru. Yes, one of our series, Force Field, was used to motivate the group into action. Whether you use our curriculum or not, the preteens you lead really can make a difference in other people’s lives. This post is more about how preteens can make a difference in their community and world & less about promoting our curriculum. I was inspired when I read her email and it brings me great joy to share this story with you.
Rozanna: Last year I helped lead a group of about thirty 5th and 6th graders called”The Edge,” from church in my home. We live and work in Doha, Qatar andour church serves the ex-pat community with people from around the world. My friend showed me your website and I found the 4-week “Force Field” series. They were so well done and very impacting. The kids especially loved the skits each week. At the end, when they were challenged to think about how to impact their community, city and world. Our kids really started thinking.
Now, I need to back up two months. Last summer, my husband and I took our family of six to Peru to minister and tour. While we were there, we had an opportunity to fund the building of a small house on the outskirts of Lima for a family in need. We met Maria and her kids and felt called to this, although it was not planned. We worked through Childcare Worldwide and within one week the house was built. The Peruvians do the building, so when we returned from a side trip to the jungle, we were able to dedicate the house and see the change that had come over Maria and her kids. This experience greatly impacted our son Hayden who was eleven at the time.
Back to Doha and our preteen group, “The Edge”. Hayden mentioned his Peru experience to his friends and thought about how he could use baseball to get sponsors and possibly build another house the next summer. One of his friends, Jonny, helped him create a prezi about the project and off they went. The whole group rallied around the idea after the Force Field lesson.
In the end, the group spread the word and raised enough money to build and furnish six houses.
In addition, five families heard about it and donated whole houses. We took a group of 18 to Peru this July to dedicate all eleven houses.
I just wanted you to know the impact your lessons are having. Thank you so much for such agreat resource. May God bless your ministry. I’m going to use all your new lessons this year.
- Rozanna LeeverTweet
Note: This is a guest post by Ryan Senters, 5th/6th grade pastor at Cornerstone Chandler Church in Arizona.
Before I became the preteen pastor at my current church, I served as a high school pastor for several years. To be honest, coming into my current role, I wasn’t sure what preteens could really do or understand. Are these 5th and 6th graders just older kids? What impact can they make at their age? I couldn’t have been more wrong. Preteens are passionate, able and willing to make a huge impact for God!
This fall, my preteen ministry made it our goal to sponsor 10 orphans at an orphanage in India for an entire year. To help raise funds, we decided to make hundreds of Capri Sun bags that we could sell to kids at our church and local community. We collected over 2,000 empty Capri Sun packets this summer then we cut and cleaned them out. I had some volunteers sew them into bags and now the students are selling them to raise money for our orphans. No joke…in 2 weeks my preteens (yes, I have 200 of them) have raised over $2,000 of the $4,000 needed by selling bags and thinking up their own creative ways to raise money. It’s crazy how passionate they are for helping God’s kingdom halfway across the world!
-A 5th grade boy started a video game drive where he collects old video games from his friends and sells them at game stop to collect money for orphans.
-Another 6th grade boy made bracelets and started selling them at his school.
-One 6th grade girl signed up to run a carnival booth at her school’s fall festival to sell our Capri Sun bags.
-To top it off, one of my 6th graders made a PowerPoint presentation at his school and asked his teacher to share it with his class. The teacher allowed it, then the principal found out and asked if he would present our orphan project to the ENTIRE school during the morning announcements! I was floored when I heard this.
Preteens aren’t too young. Preteens have the ability to be Kingdom Shakers. Preteens know what it means to be compelled by love to make a difference in the world. Preteens aren’t kids anymore.
Now, as adults in their lives lets raise the bar to help them understand what they can do with God’s help.
This is sort of a part 2 blog post. Part 1 - An Inside Look at Isaac, included some pics near my home of Isaac’s aftermath and a “take away” lesson. In this post, I am writing some thoughts swarming around my head comparing preteen ministry to hurricane Isaac.
Hurricanes often follow a steady path, which makes it easier to predict the impact zone. However, Isaac was an unpredictable storm. It wobbled west, north and would then sit still for hours. As a result, New Orleans wasn’t sure what part of the storm would hit them. Would we get the bad or good side of the storm? In case you’re wondering, we got the bad side
Preteens are also unpredictable. One minute they are really talkative, excited and high energy – the next minute they are quiet, depressed looking and lethargic. They speak their mind, often showing their lack of a filter between thought and words. One week the group wants to go deep with God, and the following week they just want to goof around.
If you lead preteens, always expect the unexpected.
Those that were most prepared before Isaac hit, experienced the least of amount of inconvenience in the aftermath. We stocked up on water, non-perishable food and supplies and were prepared in the event of no electricity or evacuation. As a result, when we went without electricity for 4 days we were okay. Of course it didn’t hurt to have parents nearby who also had electricity!
Preteens are about to morph into adolescence and they need to be prepared for the road ahead. They’ll be tempted with tougher issues as they hit the teen years. The better we can prepare them for those years, the better decisions they will make. We maximize our efforts when we provide both parents and students with opportunities to prepare themselves for the road ahead.
When our electricity went out for days, it was great to have multiple safe places as a retreat from the 100+ degree heat. We slept at my dad’s house one night, mom’s house two nights and visited my cousin (he had a pool). They all had electricity and we spent some good quality time together.
Preteens need a safe place. Yes, the family should be the #1 safe place for preteens. And sometimes that is the case, but often it is not. Either way, they benefit by having an emotional, spiritual, physical and relational safe place. And that place can be and should be your preteen ministry. They want a place to know others and be known, to celebrate others and be celebrated, to pray for others and be prayed for, to accept others and be accepted.
Preteens want a place to do life together with God in the picture.Tweet
Note: This is part one of two blog posts. Read part 2 – Hurricane Isaac and Preteens after reading this post.
As many of you know, I now live in New Orleans, which got hit hard by hurricane Isaac last week. The below pics were taken near my home, which had no damage (thank God).
Isaac was the 2nd biggest store to hit New Orleans since Katrina. Blocks from my Mandeville home businesses, cars and homes were flooded. LaPlace and Slidell, two cities surrounding New Orleans were hit really hard. They experienced massive amounts of flooding. leaving businesses and homes in shambles. 50% of Louisiana had no electricity for days after the storm. I went for four days with no power while we baked in the hot sun with a heat index of over 100 degrees. Entergy, the power company for most of New Orleans, dropped the ball leaving much of New Orleans without power for up to 5-6 day following the storm. Poor areas were affected by the lack of power the most because they lacked resources for food, water, medication and other important supplies.
The big take away: Live life with passion and purpose because you never know when the “storms of life” will hit.
Here are some pics taken just blocks from my house:
I’ve spent this past week speaking at the BC Foursquare Preteen Camp in Canada, just outside Vancouver. I’ve never been to Canada before, so it’s been great to meet some new Canadian friends. They’re a pretty cool bunch, eh! I have so much to share about my experience at camp. So, I may end up doing several posts. I know most of you are out of summer mode and now in back-to-school mode. But I think this post will help you as you plan for the fall.
The Big Takeaway: God’s Presence Changes Lives.
We facilitate God’s presence when it is a priority over everything else in our preteen ministries.Tweet
I flew in to Vancouver, Canada yesterday to speak at a preteen camp. Super excited about the camp’s theme. It’s all about God moving mountains in our lives and using us to move mountains in others’ lives. The camp starts tonight and I can’t wait to see how God moves in the lives of campers this week! It’s gonna be cool.
How is God moving mountains in your preteen ministry? Leave a comment and let us know.Tweet
My life right now, like many of yours, is a juggling act. I am juggling about three major projects at one time. A bit crazy! Do you feel the same way? Maybe you are in between summer programming and back to school. You just had a great summer and now are quickly shifting gears for the fall. And you’re crazy busy! If that’s you, here are some ideas that might be helpful.
1. You’ll never get everything done.
Ministry is never-ending. There’s always more to do. You might say to yourself, “I’ll slow down after summer.” But you won’t. There’s always another event or big project around the corner. Admit to yourself you can’t get it all done.
2. Focus on the 20% most important things.
This is a principle I have to come back to monthly. If I don’t, I’ll get sucked into doing things that simply aren’t that important. Focus on the important tasks and let the rest get undone. What’s most important?
3. Resist the urge to do more.
The crazier our schedule is, the harder we work. We work more intensley and at a faster pace. As a result, we get overwhelmed, stressed out and simply aren’t very fun to be around. Our spouses often see it before we do. Resist the temptation. If you work harder, all you do is form the habit of overworking. It’s not a healthy way to live and there are a lot of negative consequences.