The 3 D's of Preteens

abbyWhile snow and ice continue to linger around my home in Tennessee, it’s hard to believe summer is around the corner. While the weather doesn’t give me glimpse of warmer temperatures, the fact remains that my church is less than 100 days away from VBS.

As I traveled around teaching several preteen VBS conferences this winter, I kept getting a question from a few people, “Why is it called VBX? I’m just teaching 5th and 6th graders. Isn’t it VBS?” What is available in the VBX 2014 Leader Guide is a huge amount of material including preteen Bible study, craft, and recreation ideas. The preteen leader guide provides the opportunity for your preteens to have a Vacation Bible EXperience. If your church chooses to do so, you can keep preteens on their own schedule. Leaders for preteens are provided with a lot of material. Be sure you as a leader consult with your VBS director to know what is expected of you.

For those who have the privilege and honor to teach preteens this year, here are a few tips to help you be prepared for your mission, no matter the amount of time you have with your preteens.

Discover who your preteens are physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually. They don’t think like you do, no matter your age! Preteens are competitive, worried about rejection, critical of themselves, and don’t usually enjoy attempting tasks that are too difficult for them. Most importantly, perhaps, is the fact preteens are developing a value system based on their own understanding of biblical principles. Guess who needs to help impact how preteens develop those value systems? Check out page 5 in the VBX 2014 Preteen Bible Study Leader Guide for some specific characteristics.

Decide how you will teach preteens. Recognize different approaches should be used. No one learns exactly the same way as another person does. Preteens are going through a lot of emotions. Different activities will appeal to different preteens. Be sure to provide opportunities for all the approaches to learning to be used.  If you just teach preteens in the same way you learn, you aren’t going to reach them as effectively as you could be. The more approaches to learning in the activities you choose to do, the better chance you will have preteens engaged in the learning process. Approaches include logical, verbal, visual, musical, natural, physical, relational, and reflective.  You can check out Melita Thomas’s video for more information about approaches to learning.

Defend the Truth. This year, preteens will spend some time each day revealing more information about the Gospel. Three steps will be used each day, which are found on the CD and in the VBS 2014 Preteen Leader Pack. The three pieces of information can be uncovered by three individuals or assigned to three small groups. The tasks are reproducible.

  1. One task will involve unscrambling a phrase using letters provided to preteens.
  2. Another task will use Bible skills to reveal a book of the Bible.
  3. The third task will involve completing math equations to reveal the chapter and verse .

Preteens will spend time discussing the information revealed each day. For example, on the first day, preteens will decipher the phrase God Rules and the verse Colossians 2:8-9. On the fourth day of VBX, the information will be reviewed from each day, and preteens will fill out a response card that gathers information about each preteen’s beliefs. The response cards will help leaders know which preteens might have questions about becoming a Christian. Because this time is crucial to preteens’ forming of values of their own, please be familiar with presenting the gospel. You never know when a preteen may have a question, and you might not have your Bible or leader guide handy. Begin praying right now for God to provide opportunities to present the Truth during Agency D3.

Discover who Preteens are. Decide how to teach them. Defend and know the Truth. If you begin to prepare to teach by following these three steps, and spend time in prayer, God will honor your desire to preteens to know Him more.


Abbey Land is our guest blogger. She is active in children's ministry, teaches 5th grade Sunday School, edits Bible Express devotional, and leads conferences. She and her husband have four boys.


  1. Peg Fenimore says

    Can you suggest resources for preteens that will engage 5th grade students in learning how to read and study the Bible during Sunday school? Specifically, to equip them to study independently? I like the companion studies for Revolve BibleZines, but they are a bit too mature for preteens.

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