“Jesus loves the little children” sung by a group of kindergarteners is probably one of the most heart-moving church experiences we as adults could have. Folding the little hands together and repeating the prayer whispered by a parent in child’s ear can get amen even by the quietest church member. Their little hands quickly fill in the colouring pages, clap in the rhythms of the songs and love to turn pages of their animated bibles. This leaves us, their parents, imagining that they will continue to be ever praying, God loving and church attending children. After all, they are our children.
Until one day the ten-year-old frowns: “This church stuff is boring. Why can’t I stay home and play with my friends?”. Then you begin to discover that your child has entered the between age. They have left the Children’s Ministry with all its art&crafts but have not yet entered the youth ministry with all complicated teenagers’ issues. They are bored by the kids’ stuff, but youth matters are still above their heads. Congratulations, you have a TWEEN!
Tweens is a collective term for pre-teens and early teens. Ages such as 9(10) – 14(15) are quoted but obviously this can vary depending on the onset of anatomical and physiological changes. Plain and simple, tweens are an age on their own. They are in transition physically, mentally, emotionally and … spiritually. They begin to question. This is still not the rebellious teenager, who does not even engage in a conversation. Tweens want to know “Why should this matter to me?” They are just beginning to grasp the concept of their identity and they like it. It is important to them to have things that tell them who they are and that they belong. This could be a scary stage for many parents who think that their kids begin to doubt everything they were taught so far. Yet, this is not a bad thing. We as parents and teachers can encourage them to bring their doubts to Jesus. A family or church that condemns questioning and searching, and gives the impression that the only faith worth having is the one of no doubt, fails to grasp the importance of tween age. Questioning is a necessary stage in children’s lives towards owning their faith. Faith, that once was mom’s or dad’s, now emerges as their own. For God has no grandchildren! Introducing children to the riches of God’s grace, giving them a taste of what lies ahead, building excitement about the “Good News” of the Gospel creates nurturing environment for tweens.
A parent once asked: “What if we teach them too much grace and they decide to leave the church?” My take on this is a counterquestion: “What if we don’t, and they decide to stay?!”
The Children’s Ministry in collaboration with Youth Ministry is designing a special online programme that would serve the needs of pre-teens and early teens. A group of IM volunteers are preparing a fortnight “Bitesize Faith for Tweens” devotionals based on the “Be bold” curriculum. You can use them as a conversation starter with your tween, during dinner time or family worship. “Is it ok that I sometimes doubt God?”, “If people wrote the bible why do we call it God’s word?”, “Why is the bible so hard to understand?”, “What is the point of going to church?”, “Why did God appear to people only in bible times?” are only some of the questions we will boldly address.
Join us on Ranelagh SDA church youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwLDjf-QBdK-Xv5W1_JQoFw) every second Fri, beginning Fri 26th Nov at 6:00 pm