What About the Tweens?

February 10, 2015 — 17 Comments

I am so excited to have my friend, Andrea Hopgood, share about her recent experience at the Children’s Pastors’ Conference.  Andrea and I connected through another national conference a few years ago and I count her as one of my trusted kidmin sisters.  Thank you for sharing your story with us, Andrea!

What about the tweens

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Children’s Pastors’ Conference (CPC15).  The four days of sitting and learning from experts in their field started with a long, daily look into, “What Matters Most in Ministry to Tweens”. Kids are considered a “tween” when they are between 9-12 years old. I will share with you highlights and AHA moments that were both confirming and convicting to me.

According to Daniel Nott with Tween Gospel Alliance, the average:

  • family time is 36 minutes per day
  • church time is 3 hours per week
  • media/digital time is 8-10 hours per day

These statistics show that media is forming and shaping the minds of our tweens. Our teens are buying into these thoughts:

There isn’t any absolute truth. They believe it’s ok to believe what you want.

They’re asking the question, “Is church relevant for me?”

Partying is good and being skinny is the key to happiness.  Anorexia is starting between ages 9-11.

Divorce and living together is okay.

They are being mentored by media.

Having sex is normal because it’s on TV regularly. According to Dannah Gresch, founder of Secret Keeper Girl, kids as young as 11 have been exposed to pornography.

 As parents and Christian leaders, it is our responsibility to nurture the tweens in our lives so they will not build their moral compass on a shaky (worldly) foundation. Instead, we need to guide them in creating a Biblical perspective that will be a firm foundation for their lives.

Moral Development Phases

3 to 6 year olds – This is the “copycat” phase. They want to be like mom or dad. At this age, they have the play kitchen sets and pretend tool boxes and they mimic what they see mom and dad do.

 7 to 12 year olds – This is referred to as the “counseling” phase because they are forming their spiritual beliefs. No longer can we say “Because I said so”, they want to know “why”. This is always a spiritual question. This gives us the opportunity to give an answer from a Biblical perspective. If we aren’t ready to answer their questions, the world is definitely ready.

Spirit

The battle for the mind and hearts of people are largely won or lost by age 13. According to studies conducted by Barna, 80% of tweens say the Bible, Qur’an and Book of Mormon teach the same truth.

1% of tweens have a Biblical world view.

Social Peers

Tweens tend to detach from face to face communication and prefer to engage in social media. This detachment causes a decrease in empathy. To grab their attention in the church setting, we must provide experiences that will grasp their attention and apply the lesson directly to their lives, followed by time for them to verbally process how the lesson (for example) applies to their life. Many tweens are the 4th-5th graders in our ministries. They are bored being with the 1st-3rd graders, but they aren’t ready to be with the older kids. This is a golden opportunity for us to create a transitional ministry.

When they were asked, “Who is the biggest influencer in your life?”, the #1 answer was their parents. This is confirmation that we must provide opportunities for parents to be in the driver’s seat for spiritual encounters and spiritual formation.  How can we do that?

  • Provide a parent/child baptism and/or communion class. This class will allow families to attend together as a ministry leader facilitates conversation. Parents will have an opportunity to share their faith story with their child or begin a conversation letting the child know that they are beginning this journey together.  This will start heart conversations that can continue even after the class is complete.
  • Host date nights for fathers and daughters or mothers and sons.
  • Organize a parent/child purity retreat to guide conversations so parents are teaching their kids the Biblical perspective of modesty and truth about sexuality.

As you ponder what God would like your next steps to be, I pray that you receive the clarity and courage you need in order to walk out the next steps He has for you.

Resources

tweengospelalliance.org

secretkeepergirl.com

Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl by Dannah Gresch

Six Ways to Keep the “Good” in Your Boy by Dannah Gresch

Keep the conversation going!  Are you the parent or leader of a tween?  Do you feel equipped to navigate these years?  What resources have you found helpful?  Share a comment here or on our Facebook page!

Andrea has a passion for equipping ministry leaders with tools needed to lead children and families to have a relationship with our Savior.  During her 17 year career, she has served as a Children’s Pastor, a consultant, and a Presenter at various conferences.  Currently, she is the Director of Elementary Ministry at Elmbrook Church.

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17 responses to What About the Tweens?

  1. 

    Thanks so much Kathie and Andrea for considering to check us out. I will be very glad to see your post soon on Preteens’ ministry. God bless you all.

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  2. 

    Also, I started a Children’s ministry blog on facebook last year, called CHILDREN’S MINISTRY THROUGH TEACHING. I invite Andrea, Kathie and other members to PLEASE join us. Basically, we teach one another ways to win children to Christ and we need people like you who would teach us ways, strategies and so on, from your wealth of experience. I’d be expecting you, Please?Please?Please? God’ll use you all for us. Amen.

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  3. 

    Oh, what a great idea Andrea. Thanks so much for sharing that. I’ll definitely introduce that as well as time goes on after we have started. Thanks so much for taking time to explain.

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  4. 

    Thank you for sharing these wise words. I have a 10 year old daughter who asks a ton of questions…I’m so glad she’s asking. I’m also so thankful for the “tween” ministry at our church. She already feels like she “belongs” there and is excited to attend each week. So far she does not spend 10 hours having “screen time”. I’m hoping we can keep this to a minimum.

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    • 

      Hi Mandi,
      I’m so glad your daughter has a place to “belong”. That is a very important piece that may help keep her focused on what’s really important. Actually, I have found it to be easy to curb the 10 hours “screen time” just by making conversation and having family time.

      Have fun in your parenting journey.

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  5. 

    (I tried posting a comment earlier but I am not sure it delivered. I’ll just try again and hope this one gets delivered)Andrea and Kathie, thanks so much for your replies. As you have said, I’ll by God’s grace build a wonderful relationship with them and make them free with me. I’ll also continue to read and learn from great blogs like yours. God bless you all for releasing yourselves for God’s work. (Andrea, what is the interactive worship station all ablout? Is it online too?)

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    • 

      The interactive workship stations (also referred to as respond stations) is what I use each week for the kids to “respond” to God’s Word. For example, if the lesson is about Joseph forgiving his brothers, I would have a respond station with a pitcher of water & a stack of disappearing paper (on Amazon). Kids will write something they need forgiveness for, put it in water & stir. Paper will disappear. This is how it is when we confess our sins to God. He forgives the sin & it’s gone. I simple one is a prayer wall where the kids can write a prayer & post it on the wall. My team & I reads them each week & pray over them. I have 4 different stations each week. There are many ideas like this on Pinterest.

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  6. 

    Great post here and a very good job. Thanks for the expositions above. I intend starting a children evangelism in my area soon but still praying about it. I am likely to start with just 4 children. Should i just go straight to preaching to them at the start or what can I first start with at our first meeting? And what to do to keep them coming? They are between ages 5 and 9. Thanks.

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    • 

      Hi Kenny that is so awesome that you are being obedient to what God has put on your heart.

      When starting something new, I would begin by building a relationship with the kids. Have activities that would help you get to know them, their interest, and most importantly, where they are spiritually. This will help build trust & you will be able to provide experiences that will help them grow in their faith.

      To keep them coming, the tine you spent together has to be a mix of truth & fun. I’ve had much success when I incorporate an interactive activity along with the teaching.

      Have fun as you teach the kids about our Savior.

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    • 

      Hi Kenny! That sounds exciting! I would echo Andrea’s comment that relationships are key. Taking time to build those relationships first will help them to be receptive to your messages.

      Like Andrea mentioned, teaching God’s Word needs to be fun! That, combined with relationships, will keep them coming and encourage them to invite friends. Andrea sets up interactive worship stations that I’m sure she’d love to tell you about if you’re interested.

      If you need further ideas, feel free to email me at kidminspiration@gmail.com. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment.

      Blessings!

      Like

  7. 

    Thank you for your post! I work at our church with this age group and recognize what a vital time it is for spiritual connections. Thanks for the ideas and reminding us what our kids are up against.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 

      Hi Mairee,
      You are very welcome. It is my pleasure to provide reminders and ideas that will stir thoughts and fesh ideas for ministry.

      Like

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