Great New Book for Preteen Ministry (win a free copy)

Today we are featuring a guest post from Dan Scott.  Dan is the Director of 252 Kids & Preteen Curriculum at Orange.  He recently released a book entitled "Caught in Between...engage your preteens before they check out."

I am thankful Dan has written a book about preteen ministry.  If you serve in preteen ministry, this book is a must read.  The preteen years are such an important time in a child's spiritual journey.  In this book, Dan lays out great strategies for impacting preteens and their families.

I'm going to be giving away a free copy of the book.  I will randomly select a person from the entries and announce the winner next Friday, July 27, here on this site. You can enter by emailing me at

Below is an article from Dan.  It's entitled "Five Characteristics of a Dynamic Preteen Environment."  Read it. Talk about it.  Implement the great tips into your ministry.  Share it with your ministry friends.

Preteens are everywhere. In fact, by 2020, the United States will be home to roughly 23 Million of them. Unfortunately, we’re finding that more and more of them are checking out of church.  Some of them are physically leaving, with youth groups having to re-enroll them to the database system when they enter middle school.

Others show up but disengage from the program. By the time they reach the next phase of your ministry, they’ve made up their minds as to whether or not they’ll continue to make church a priority. Preteens are falling through the cracks during the transition from childhood to adolescence.

But here’s the good news, with a few shifts in programming, you can create a preteen environment that makes sure your preteens don’t fall through the cracks, but rather, get caught in between.

Here are five characteristics of a dynamic preteen ministry that you should keep in mind:

If at all possible, create a unique environment for your preteens. Because preteens are in between childhood and adolescence, sometimes they’ll act like one or the other depending on the situation. They’ve been in children’s ministry for several years now, and they’re ready for something new because they’re starting to think like teenagers. But, they’re not ready to move on to your student ministry yet because in many ways they’re still kids. Give them a unique environment that can bridge the gap between children’s and student ministry. This doesn’t have to be huge or over-the-top, it just needs to be theirs.

Customization is a huge part of a preteens life, from the backgrounds on their mobile devices and the decorations in their bedroom or their lockers to their sense of style and how they wear their hair. Ask yourself the question, “how can our preteens personalize this space?” Create an environment where kids can put their own stamp on what they experience. If they customize the room, they will have more ownership of the room. When they feel like they own it, they’ll be more likely to keep coming back. 

This probably goes without saying, but fun should be a high priority in your preteen environment. So often we feel like we want our preteens to dive deeper into God’s Word, but by doing so we tend to make it feel like school. Kids have enough school throughout the week, give them a stress-free morning with an environment that lets them know that you not only love them, but LIKE them as well. Fun helps them realize that you understand their point of view and welcomes them as they are into your church. On top of that, fun earns kids’ attention and creates memories that they may have for years to come. 

Of course, any environment in your church should be physically safe for kids. You should run background checks on leaders, secure doors, and make sure no one can harm your kids. We also need to be sure that our ministries are emotionally safe for our kids, especially our preteens. During the preteen years, kids start to kick against the foundations they have built throughout their early childhood. Often, they’ll start to ask harder questions about their faith, their identity, and their experiences. They need consistent small group leaders who will create a safe environment where they are free to ask those questions without being scared of what others will think.

I hesitate to use this word, because it can feel trite and overused. However, being relevant is connecting God’s truth to the matter at hand. How we talk about the Bible matters. How create experiences for kids to understand their part in God’s story is important. Both help them see that God’s Word speaks to what is happening at home, school, on a sports field or even an art studio. Create a teaching strategy in your preteen ministry that invites kids to explore God’s Word on their own, while giving them the skills they need to grow in an authentic relationship with Jesus.

For more information on how you can create a dynamic preteen environment in your church, check out Caught In Between: Engage Your Preteens Before They Check Out on Amazon.