Preteens hold unprecedented influence, more than any other time in history. Yet, anyone who has spent time in children’s or middle school ministry has stories of preteens that sit against the back wall, roll their eyes at what’s said on stage, and barely tolerate the hour. Or of some who just don’t show up at all.

Today’s preteens are getting lost in transition as they shift from childhood to adolescence, a unique and challenging time when they are not quite one thing and not quite the other. Today on the Think Orange Podcast, we sit down with Dan Scott, author of Caught In Between: Engage Your Preteens Before They Check Out, to talk about how church leaders can help preteens develop a faith of their own as they move from children’s to middle school ministry.

Welcome to Episode 52 of the Think Orange Podcast.

Topic Timeline:

The bridge into middle school ministry is just as important as the bridge out (2:10)

Part 1 of Dave’s interview with Dan Scott (5:53)

After five years of research on preteens, 252 has launched a new preteen experience/curriculum (7:17)

What Dan and his team have learned from their research that should change how churches do ministry for preteens (7:55)

Is preteen ministry a moving target? (8:33)

One thing researchers agree on: 11 is a magic age (10:55)

What the church can learn from the marketing industry (12:45)

The preteen years are the onramp for churches to create lifelong engagement (14:25)

Fifth graders are checking out of church mentally, physically, or both (15:50)

What parents and church leaders can do when they see preteens checking out (20:03)

If they’re not wrestling with it, they’re not learning it (21:35)

How the church can help preteens where they’re at by creating an experience that’s unique from children’s ministry (26:10)

Building anticipation for kids and students by filling in the blanks: “I get to _____ when I get to _____,” for each phase (28:40)

When we hyper-focus on transitions, we retain kids (29:39)

How 252 PRETEEN and Caught In Between can help church leaders catch preteens in this transition (34:11)

Generations are changing and some believe that by 2080, there will be at least 15 generations alive at the same time (37:32)

Part 2 of interview with Dan Scott (40:10)

Summary of Dan’s new book, Caught In Between: … (41:20)

Obstacles for preteens when it comes to faith (42:58)

You don’t want them to destroy their faith—you want them to renovate it (47:13)

Allowing space for questions, rather than always providing answers (51:03)

People are now sharing they left the church as adults because they couldn’t ask questions when they were young (56:34)

Dave and Ashley’s final thoughts (59:22)