Qualities of an Exceptional Preteen Leader

Qualities of an Exception Preteen Leader

by Nick Diliberto

Preteen ministry is unique because preteens are unique. They’re no longer children and not yet teenagers. They listen to AC/DC on their iPhone’s while sleeping with a four foot stuffed dog, named Peanut. In order to maximize impact, you need exceptional leaders who meet the specific needs of preteens.

Here are four qualities of an exceptional preteen leader:


Preteens have a lot of energy, short attention spans and are fast approaching the teenager years. They’re going through major changes in every area of their lives: socially, physically, spiritually and mentally. When you put a group of them together, expect the unexpected. A good preteen leader is flexible and goes with the flow. If a preteen wants to go off topic and ask questions about creation, go with it. If the group is super hyper, play a quick game on the fly as an energy release. You’ll get frustrated if you have a rigid game plan when leading a preteen service. Effective leaders are flexible enough to adapt when unexpected things come up (and they often do).


Preteen leaders are consistent. Investing themselves in the lives of preteens, they know the struggles they face at home, school and with friends. Exception leaders recognize where preteens are in their relationship with God and walk alongside of them in the faith journey. All this takes time and effort. The key is consistency.


You can’t make people want to lead preteens to Jesus. You can force them to volunteer, but that isn’t effective. The motivation is either there, or it is not. Recruit based on opportunity, not need. If leaders aren’t there because they want to make a difference, preteens will pick up on it. They’re not easily fooled. So, if people aren’t interested in volunteering, don’t sweat it. If they have a desire to serve, then let them loose. Many start out with a small desire that grows into a burning passion. Recruit, train and lead those who are willing.


Preteens have lots of questions about life and faith. They need leaders who expand their view of God. How? Encourage preteens to think independently and challenge them to discover God on their own. Give them the opportunity to explore God and help them to own their relationship with Jesus.


Nick Diliberto is the creator or PreteenMinistry.net, which provides creative curriculum and resources for preteen ministry. He’s also the preteen columnist in Children’s Ministry Magazine and Children’s/Family Pastor at Seven Sean Diego Church.

Guest post from preteen guru Nick Diliberto

One of the people I met for the first time at Group’s Kidmin conference was Nick Diliberto he and Patrick Snow are the what I would consider the leading voices when it comes to preteen ministry. Nick is a great guy and much of what he writes applies to leaders of any age level but it especially hits him with those who are reaching out to the Pre-teen crowd.

The two places in our kids ministry where I have the most difficult time filling is the 2-year-old room and our preteen environment. Why? My theory is 2 year olds and preteens are the same. I’ll have to blog that theory for you someday. Needless to say we need more people speaking into this crucial age. It’s my honor to have Nick do a guest post for me I hope it will create some dialog and stir people to action.

Check out his blog over at preteenministry.net

Conferences I’m going to: Austin Illuminate.

I thought I would start talking about some of the conferences I am going to and how they are all so different and why I am excited to be going to each of them.

In a little less than two weeks I will be going to Austin Texas to Illuminate Conference.

Why is it different – It’s the first conference to bring National Known Speakers like Jim Wideman to train and equip volunteers not just Ministry leaders. Everything about this conference is focused on volunteers. It’s on a saturday so volunteers can come. It’s priced in such a way that a church can send their whole team for the price of sending a few leaders to a national conference, all the content will be crafted and delivered with volunteers in mind.

Why I’m excited to be going – It has the feel of a national conference but at the local level. It’s an honor and a privilege to speak to people and pour into the volunteers who are the lifeblood of children’s ministry. I also am excited because all the speakers are involved in a local church to me that’s huge I love the local church and when someone is apart of a local church and not a traveling expert that is always a huge plus for me. I am also excited to meet many of you.

A bit about Kenny the founder – I have known Kenny for years (we met online) he is the real deal. He feels strongly that this is a God idea and I am with him. If the church was and is important to Jesus it should be important to us. Kenny has some sponsors but is funding this thing on his own, that’s the kind of guy Kenny is he puts his money where is mouth is. He loves the church, he loves the next generation. I am proud beyond words to be called his friend. Not many people would step out in faith to equip and train leaders and volunteers to be more effective at reaching the next generation.

If you are within driving distance for the love of all that is holy sign up bring a car load of volunteers create some memories and learn, grow and dream together.


The Yankees lost and so did I.

Before the playoffs began one of my fellow kids pastors proposed a small gentleman’s  wager. You know the kind where the Mayor of New York sends the Mayor of Chicago a thin crust pizza if the Giants lose to the Bears in the Superbowl.

Jason took a risk a significantly higher risk than I did. He proposed that when the Mighty New York Yankees play his plucky Tigers whoever lost would have to post a blog post on the other person’s blog. The Yankees lost so I posted a blog post on his blog. Head on over to his blog and read my post there it’s about helping your kids be brave not safe.

Oh and lastly but not leastly Go CARDINALS! Boo Rangers you heard my Cliff Boo Rangers.





50 gigabytes of storage space for free?

Box.net is offering an incredible deal. If you download their iPhone or iPad app you get 50gb of space for life. Most people in kids, youth and music ministry share files in preparation for the weekend service this is a great option. Box.net also gives us a 100mb upload size wich is very generous for a free option. I use drop box but may switch because the ability to share files in Box.net seems much more intuitive. Also because Box.net is integrating Google Docs into its main web application, giving all its customers the ability to create and edit Google Docs from within Box.net (for a small fee, but it’s still an option). If I was you I would check out Box.net as soon as possible as this is a limited time offer.