By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor
One of the changes that will take place this fall will be approaching 5th and 6th graders as preteens rather than as elementary children. The class for preteens will have a different curriculum and ministry approach. For curriculum, we will be teaching Christian doctrines, United Methodist social principles and life coach lessons. For the ministry approach, we will be using similar teen ministry techniques.
In recent years many churches have made adjustments to minister to preteens, or children ages 9-12. The need arises mainly due to preteens not wanting to be treated as children. Therefore, many elementary departments serve students up to 4th grade. This change has resulted in 5th and 6th graders either becoming an extension of elementary or part of a youth group. We’re making a gradual change in viewing the 10:30 a.m. children’s education class for 5th & 6th graders as preteens.
Another reason is to make connections to our 7th grade confirmation class. Two years ago, when I taught confirmands at Trinity, I was overwhelmed by all the doctrines and creeds that needed to be presented. We had a lot to cover so we ended up just going over the basics; we did not have time to discuss in depth core of the gospel. Last year, I focused on the gospel, but didn’t have adequate time to go over all the creeds and doctrines of United Methodist Church. To make our confirmation process more complete, I would like for us to view grades 5 and 6 as a group working towards confirmation.
Lastly, viewing 5th & 6th graders as preteens offers an excellent opportunity to begin a new avenue to spiritual growth. Preteens are more mature than kids at that age twenty years ago. The internet and other technological developments offer today’s youth greater exposure to information and experiences than previous generations. They are still impressionable to learn and be open to new ideas. My hope is that they respond positively to the new curriculum and approach because they are validated by the church in their stage of development. Please pray with us as we take this new venture in spiritual education for our 5th & 6th graders.