How to Relate to Preteens

Written by Rob Quinn

So I get asked all the time why I like preteen ministry.

When I answer them, they usually look at me like I’m the craziest person on the planet.

See, my answer is always the same. Besides being called to preteen ministry, I actually enjoy this age group.

That’s when I get the looks. I understand preteens are weird and awkward and kind of crazy and this is what I love about them.

I was a full time firefighter for 12 years and the one thing firefighters know how to do is to be fun loving and crazy. Sound familiar?

The first time I actually hung out with preteens, it was a lot like being on the fire department. The biggest different was what they were talking about and the things they were into.

I was able to relate to some of the stuff, but there was a lot I didn’t understand at all.

To build relationships with our preteens, we need to be able to relate to them on their level.

I know this can be hard for some out there. I mean, what adult really wants to play Mine craft. I love video games, but I’ve tried it and I just don’t get it… but our preteens do, and they love it!

So what can we do to better relate to our preteens?

The first thing I believe we need to do is to not be so serious.

We are adults and culture tells us we need to act like adults, but guess what? We serve preteens, so we need to act a little more like preteens (or at least understand them more).

Preteens are becoming very relational and want to build relationships with their friends and adults, but they don’t know how to act like adults so we need meet them where they’re at.

This will take some time on your part, especially if you are my age and up. I’m not going to give you my age, but just know it isn’t 20 or 30.

Lets start with music.

A great way to relate to preteens is to know which music they like. I know Taylor Swift or Ariana Grande may not be your style of music, but it is theirs.

Take some time and listen to what they do. An added bonus to this is that you can help them understand why a song may not be honoring to God.

Always remember the reason you are doing this is not to teach them something, but to better relate to them.

Now for the television shows they may watch.

Nickelodeon shows are probably at the top the list. You don’t have to watch every episode but you will want to watch a few of them.

If you have preteens like I do, this is much easier because you can just hang out in the room when they are watching their shows.

Don’t forget about the regular network shows they may be watching. Preteens are starting to watch more network TV these days and again, what better way to relate to them then talk about these shows.

Here are a few I know they are watching, and it is okay if you already watch them: Duck Dynasty, Americas Got Talent, The Voice, American Ninja Warrior, and Dr. Who.

Since I am a guy relating to boys it the next one is easy for me, especially since I have been told that I am a big kid.

Sports, video games, superhero movies, sports again, are all great ways to relate to preteen boys.

What about the one or two boys that are not into stuff like this? Take the time to see what they are into, and be interested when they tell you about it.

Relating to the girls is a little more difficult for me. Just make sure you are being intentional with relating to them.

If we look at the word “relate,” it is the first part of the relationship.

To build a relationship with preteens you have to be able to relate with them.

When you take the time and energy to learn about what they like and what they do, the relationship you build with them will be amazing.

By beginning to build relationships with them, we can help them build their relationship with God.

rob quinnRob Quinn serves as the Preteen Ministry Coordinator at Community Bible Church in Brighton, MI. He has been involved with preteen ministry for almost 8 years now. Rob is married to an amazing woman Jodi, who just so happens to be the Children’s Ministry Director at his church. They have one beautiful daughter Sydni, and an 8-pound attack dog named Lilly.

One Response to “How to Relate to Preteens

  • mnormancarguy
    6 years ago

    Great post. I agree, relating is of huge importance. Thanks for sharing about relating to boys. Oddly enough I actually struggle more with that than with relating to girls. This tip is very helpful.

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