Written by Rob Quinn

Can preteens serve the church? Are there things preteens can do to serve others? Are preteens capable of understanding why we should serve?

My response to all of these questions is an emphatic YES!

When we combined our 5th and 6th grade students and launched our preteen ministry, we didn’t know all the answers and we still don’t.

The one thing we have learned is that when preteens serve, it is an amazing way to help them own their faith.

One of the greatest things we have done to help our preteens own their faith is to give them the opportunity to serve God by serving others.

We have made changes along the way to help equip and train them without compromising our overall beliefs.

By helping preteens to understand that Jesus served others out of love,they realize that they should use their gifts to serve Him too.

Let’s answer the questions from the beginning to decide if preteens can serve:

1. Can preteens serve the church?

Let’s see what the Bible has to say about it.

In Luke chapter two, Jesus was found teaching the religious leaders in the temple. He was teaching them in a way that amazed them—especially with His understanding of the Lord.

In verse 41, God purposely tells us that Jesus’ age is twelve years old. Jesus is serving others at the age of twelve, illustrating that preteens were designed to serve and are capable of doing so.

One of the opportunities we gave early on was to allow our preteens to serve in Children’s Ministry. Now this was a learning process for us as figured out what they were ready for and what required more maturity.

We learned that they needed specific training and guidance, so we developed a leadership team within our preteen ministry.

We modeled our leadership team after Sean Sweet’s of Destiny Church in California and FourFiveSix.org.

Here the students learn to serve in various jobs within their own preteen ministry before heading out into another one.

Once they have served their peers and completed the appropriate training, we ease them into serving in other areas within the church.

Watching our preteens serve each other and then serve in other areas has been amazing! They are seeing and doing what Jesus has designed all of us for.

So now that we know that preteens are capable of serving, we need to ask the next question…

2. How can preteens serve others?

This is where we as leaders need to have a good understanding of our individual preteens and preteen culture.

When you are planning things for your preteens to do, take into account your current students. There will be things one group can do, but that the next group may not be ready for.

Here is how we gave our preteens an opportunity to serve:

When we started our preteen program, the first thing we did was break them off from being part of our Vacation Bible School.

We know that some VBS’s are geared to first, second, and third graders- so keeping our preteens there didn’t work for them.

Rather than having nothing for them to do, we saw this as a great opportunity to get their feet wet in serving others by starting a mission’s week just for them.

The service theme is reinforced with a special lesson, fun game and practical activities.

Each day we do some sort of community service project.

Here is a list of outreach projects we have done in the past:

● Go door-to-door collecting canned goods for the local food bank.
● Put fleece blankets together for the homeless and needy.
● Assemble breakfast bags for the homeless and Red Cross food pantry.
● Free car wash.
● Washed car windows of church members serving at kids VBS.
● Yard work for the elderly.
● Beautification of a local trailer park.
● Distributed water bottles to people in the park on a hot day.
● Cleaned up local schools’sports fields.

When coordinating outreach projects, keep this in mind:

● Plan for projects that you feel your preteens are ready for, but make sure you set them up for success.

● Take time to walk them through why they are doing each service project.

● Offer proper training for the project; don’t just expect them figure it out. For example, we actually role-play with our preteens on what to say when they go door to door asking for canned goods.This includes safety precautions and how to respond when people aren’t nice.

● Debrief with your preteens after each project. If you wait until the end of the week, they will forget what they experienced. When you take time to talk about it immediately, it is amazing how much they take away from it.

● Most importantly, pray with them before and after each project. Point out the great things God did that day. Remember, preteens are learning to see God moments. We need to help them sometimes by pointing it out.

3. Are preteens capable of understanding why we should serve?

Based on the answer of our first question, I would say yes. We are all designed to serve just like Jesus.

If we are meant to serve, then we are also meant to understand why.

Preteens are capable of understanding that Jesus died for them. They can make the decision to believe this and to allow Jesus into their hearts to be reborn.

This allows them to know why we serve—to love others just as Jesus did.

If we truly believe our preteens are capable of serving, then it is our responsibility to give the opportunities to do so.

Whatever stage your preteens are in, work closely with them, their parents, your church and community to find ways in which they can serve.

Don’t be afraid to give them the chance to be what God designed them to be.

When they do, you will be amazed at what they can do for God. I know I was the first time.

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.