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The Critical Pre-Teen Years

A recent study from George Barna reveals that nearly half of all people who come to Christ do so before reaching the age of 13. The report also says people who accept Christ before their teen years are for more likely to remain committed to Christianity. If you work with pre-teens in your church or ministry, I can't emphasize enough the importance of what you are doing. Look what Barna says about this.

"Families, churches and parachurch ministries must recognize that primary window of opportunity for effectively reaching people with the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection is during the pre-teen years. It is during those years that people develop their frames of reference for the remainder of their life – especially theologically and morally. Consistently explaining and modeling truth principles for young people is the most critical factor in their spiritual development.

I believe people who work with pre-teens are serving in one of the most important times in a person's life. The battlefield for the next generation is in the pre-teen years and earlier." We must help pre-teens see that they must own their faith as they head into their teen years. We must help them develop a solid faith foundation. Without it, they will struggle in their teen years. PRAY daily for the pre-teens in your ministry. Pray that they will walk closely with Jesus. Pray that they will rely upon Jesus as they face temptations and pitfalls. Pray that their parents will have wisdom, understanding and patience as they seek to influence their pre-teen children spiritually. Pray for the volunteers and leaders who work with pre-teens. Pray that God will use them in the kids' lives and that the kids will receive what they have to say. POINT pre-teens toward Jesus. He is the answer to every struggle and trial they will face in their teen years. Remind them that people will let them down. People will be hypocritical at times. People's talk will not always match their walk. But Jesus is faithful, trustworthy, loving and caring. He will never let them down. He will never leave them nor forsake them. Show them the commands and promises found in passages of Scripture like Hebrews 12:2.

"We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne."

PREPARE them for their teen years. Teach them apologetics. Trust me, they will need it in the culture they are growing up in. Help them see Jesus is the one and only way to God. Show them the proof that the Bible is the Word of God and you can trust it. Help them grasp a spiritual foundation that they can build their lives on. PLACE pre-teens in serving roles. We know that pre-teens who serve are more likely to also serve in their teen and adult years. Create opportunities for them to serve in roles such as greeting, running AV, helping teach the lesson, helping in preschool, cleaning up after class, leading worship, etc. Actively go after pre-teens to serve. If they can develop the heart of a servant during those formative years, it will be a part of their DNA for the rest of their lives. PARTNER with parents of pre-teens. The pre-teen years can be challenging for parents. Pre-teens go through a lot of changes as they are moving out of their adolescence years. Pre-teens begin to go through physical and emotional changes. Their moods can be unpredictable. They are very self-conscious. They will sometimes act without thinking as they are developing their decision-making skills. It's not easy parenting a pre-teen. Parents are looking for help and resources. Be there for them and help them navigate the pre-teen years. Consider offering parenting classes for parents of pre-teens. Especially as they prepare to enter their teen years. Share helpful articles and insight with them. Be their biggest fan and supporter. p.s. If you are looking for an apologetics series for pre-teens, check out this series. If you are looking for a high impact resource for parents of pre-teens as they move into their teen years, check out this resource.

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