Helping Preteens Hear God

Written by Sean Sweet

4 Ways to Help Preteens Hear God

I’m really good at doing ministry that is jam-packed with noise:

  • Music
  • Teaching
  • Conversations
  • Games
  • Corporate prayer
  • etc., etc., etc.

Every moment programmed. Every second full of somebody (anybody) talking or making some kind of noise.

But there’s a huge danger here, isn’t there?

It was in the QUIET of the night that the boy Samuel heard God calling to him.

It was in a still, small voice that Elijah heard.

If I don’t ever allow for those quiet moments in my ministry to preteens (those times that allow for them to hear God for themselves) then I am training them to be  “second-hand Christians”: Christians who can only hear God speaking through another Christian.

I’m learning to make quiet spaces in my ministry for preteens to hear God’s voice. For us to be still and just hear that quiet voice…and then to help preteens (just like Eli helped Samuel) to listen.

Here are 4 ways we’ve started to create space for preteens to hear God:

1. Twelve Weeks a Year of “Time With God” Services

Three times a year, we have a month-long discipleship program during our first service where we hand out journals and teach the preteens four different ways to hear from God for themselves:

  • in Creation
  • in scripture
  • in silence
  • in music.

Then we take 15 minutes for the preteens to do just that and write down what they sense God is showing them.

After that, we share, in small groups, what they are hearing, and help them to more clearly discern God’s voice.

2. Alone Time at Camp

Each Summer, at Camp Destiny, we take time in the evenings for the preteens to take a journal and their Bible and go off on their own to seek God for themselves.

On the first night, we set the expectations and explain the purpose.

We start with a very short time on the first night (about 5 minutes), and build it up during the week until they are spending 20 minutes easily alone with God.

Again, they write their findings and share it in small groups when they return from their “alone time”

Incidentally, former campers have told me this was their favorite time at camp.

3. “Time with God” Each Sunday

Each week in our second service, we take a few minutes at the beginning of service called “Time with God”.

During this time, there is quiet guitar music and a prompt on the screen, like “Focus only on God during this time.”

This is a time when the preteens get alone with God somewhere in our ministry space, without any other input from leaders or other students.

Since we’ve introduced this time at the beginning of services, we’ve found that our services are much more powerful and the preteens are much more focused throughout the service.

But more than that, we are helping preteens to “tune in” to God.

4. Two Powerful Questions

Each Wednesday night, we give the students a response card with these two questions:

  1. “What is God revealing to you tonight?”
  2. “What questions do you have?”

After the message, we give the preteens some quiet moments to answer one or both of those questions.

This cards become the centerpiece of our small group time.

Now, instead of a “forced” small group activity or questions that don’t interest the students (or small group leaders), the small group time is centered around what’s going on in the preteens relationship with God.

Final Thoughts

YES! I could fill up every moment of a service or camp. I’m good at that.

But I must….we must….teach our preteens to hear God’s voice for themselves.

And this means I have to INTENTIONALLY be quiet long enough for them to listen.

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Preteen Game on Discipleship

Sean Pic 2Sean Sweet is the Community Facilitator for FourFiveSix.org, and is dedicated to raising the value of your ministry to preteens.

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