What is most lacking in your preteen ministry right now?

Pause for a second and answer that question.

Our initial answer to that question is often not the real answer.

Before I reveal what many of our ministries are really lacking, let’s look at some of the most common answers.

Here are common answers to that question:


We need help recruiting, training, and keeping volunteers.

We’re lacking volunteers who understand preteens, are committed to building relationships with them, and are also passionate about pointing students to Jesus.


Many answer that question with programming ideas.

We lack engaging worship, creative messages, exciting games, or ways to help preteens go deeper in their relationship with God.


Many feel the missing piece is effectively partnering with parents.

We know that parents have the most influence in the lives of preteens, and we want to walk alongside of them.

Maybe your answer was different.

But we often miss the REAL answer to that question.

For many, what is lacking the most in our ministries is God-centered leadership.

God-centered leadership is:

Putting God in the center of your life and ministry

Paying attention and listening to God’s voice

Surrendering your daily to-do list to God

Allowing God to lead your ministry, rather than taking control

The list goes on.

It is our goal to approach ministry with God-centered leadership.

None of us intentionally goes in another direction.

However, there are some roadblocks that get in our way.

These roadblocks are subtle and have a way of sneaking up on us.

If we’re not paying attention, they will take us off course.


Often, we get really good at leading a ministry.

We see God moving in the lives of our students.

In fact, we get so good that we stop depending on God. We rely on our own power and strength to get things done.


Some of us let the approval of others dictate the direction of our ministry.

For example, you might feel that God has something better for your ministry this summer other than VBS.

But, you decide to not move forward with a different program because you don’t want to rock the boat.


Many of us have a tough time saying “no”.

We have such a heart to reach preteens that we take on too many projects.

We have a tough time saying “no” to ourselves.

Or maybe we have a tough time saying “no” to others.

We say “yes” to too many projects placed on us by others.


Let’s face it – the demands of ministry are difficult to manage at times.

We juggle a lot all at once.

We’re expected to lead with a compelling vision, empower a team, recruit volunteers, come up with programs to lead students to Jesus, be a shoulder to cry on for students in trouble…..and the list goes on.

The needs of those around us are never-ending.

There are always more volunteers to recruit, students in crisis, and more programs to run.

We get so busy in the day-to-day grind, we lose sight of the importance of placing God in the center of everything we do.

Sure, there are other roadblocks to God-centered leadership.

I just named a few.

The bottom line…

We simply need to place God in the center of everything we do in ministry.

It sounds so simple and appears too obvious.

Maybe it is that simple though.

Just maybe a lot of the stress we’re experiencing is because God isn’t the center.

In order for us to experience God-centered leadership, we need to:

Surrender our ministry problems to God.

Listen to God’s voice.

Pay attention to what God is doing in and around us.

Rely on His strength for the courage to move in God’s direction.

Slow down, pause, reflect on God’s presence in our lives and ministry.

I encourage you to pause for a moment.

Bring this question before God:

Is the ministry you’re leading lacking God-centered leadership?

nick-dWritten by Nick Diliberto, who is the creator of PreteenMinistry.net, JuniorHighMinistry.org and MinistrytoYouth.com. He has over 15 years experience in preteen ministry and currently leads the youth ministry at Northshore Vineyard Church in Covington, LA just outside of New Orleans. He also plays in a dodgeball league, where his team just won the championship game last season (the team came in last place their first season). Oh yeah.


  • Ellen Baker
    6 years ago

    Hi Nick,
    I’m a middle school (yep, middle school!) youth volunteer and small group leader in the Indianapolis area, and have been doing it for 7 amazing years. I started checking out your site because I’ve found several great games that I shared with our youth pastors, and we’ve ended up using them for both middle school and high school youth, and they’ve loved them. Although you’re focused on preteens, I find that a lot of your information is still very applicable to middle school students, and want to thank you for sharing your experience, wisdom and insight with the rest of us. At my church, we have difficulty finding volunteers willing to work with the 11-13 age range, but I love these kids because they’re in that tough place between dependence and independence (among other things), and every little tidbit I can glean to help them is appreciated!

    • Awesome, so glad you have found out stuff to be helpful! You can also check out our sister websites – juniorhighministry.org (for jr high/middle school) and ministrytoyouth.com (youth ministry in general). Thanks again for the comment!

  • Sally Holmquist
    6 years ago

    Thanks for the reminder to put God first! You right we jump in with Gods direction get going, going, going, and loose focus trying to do it all. Thank you for the compass reminder to not loose our way. It’s all about God, bottom line. Seek ye first…. He is our easy button. I never write like this but wanted you to know I have gleaned from your Ministry over the year and you are making a difference with what your doing! Be encourage in the Lord.

  • Elizabeth
    6 years ago

    Thanks! Really needed to hear that!!!!!!!