Jesus's Great Commission to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation" speaks to all Christians, regardless of age or denomination. Preteens are at an age where they need to experience the things about which they're learning. Missions are likely to excite your preteens if they can get involved with your church's mission work in a tangible way.
Teach your preteens about the concept of missions. Talk about what missionaries do. Explain that they leave their homes to share the good news with others by preaching, teaching and providing practical help such as digging wells and opening medical clinics. Keep your teaching interactive, asking your preteens what they think it would be like to be a missionary.
Explore the cultures to which the missionaries your church supports minister. If your local church doesn't directly support missionaries, you can get this information from your denomination's website or by calling their headquarters. When talking to your kids about cultures, include information about the lifestyles, dress, food and language of the people to whom your church sends missionaries. If your preteens show special interest, encourage them to learn the basics of the languages of those cultures by using language learning websites such as livemocha.com.
Encourage your preteens to choose a missionary with whom to correspond. They can write letters or emails to the missionary, asking any questions they might have about the culture he serves and how he works with the people of that culture. Most missionaries are happy to take a few minutes to share what they're doing when kids ask questions. Once your kids build a correspondence relationship with a missionary, consider asking him to talk to your kids via Skype during Sunday school.
Involve your preteens in raising funds for missions. A good way to do this is to have a car wash, can drive, or other activity that involves the preteens actually doing some work themselves to raise the funds. Have your preteens ask the missionary about specific needs for which they can raise funds. Knowing that they are raising funds to help build a well or to provide books so kids can go to school is more concrete and real to preteens than simply sending money without knowing for what it will be used.
Take or send your preteens on a mission trip. In addition to whatever missions programs your church or denomination may offer preteens, nondenominational organizations like Teen Mania offer preteens the opportunity to serve in age-appropriate missions programs, both domestically and abroad.
Teach your kids to view their everyday environment as their missions field. While it's great to travel the world to exotic places to serve others and share the gospel, there are people next door or in the desk beside them at school to whom they can also minister.
- When missionaries visit your church, invite them to speak briefly with the preteen class.
- When learning about other cultures, preteens are often particularly interested in the lives of the kids their age.
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