Preteens are at a crossroads of growing up and growing in the Lord, with the world pushing in on them from all sides- temptation at every turn and seeping in through the cracks through peer pressure, social media, and more. The world they are facing is scary, and we want to FIGHT FOR THEM and teach them to fight for purity.
We want them to chase after Christ, and let Him fill every area of their lives with purity. To pursue holiness and become molded and shaped in to His image. To strive for purity in their minds, bodies, friendships, and social media- in ALL areas of their lives; to live without even a hint of impurity or immorality. That is the goal.
The path to get there takes intentionality and dedication. It takes prayer and investment, long term relationships and pouring into kids. It takes parents who are empowered to fight for their kids and lead them, and a church who equips kids and parents and challenges them.
Teaching kids to live in purity isn't a one time thing. It's not just a lesson or a weekend trip. It's a journey.
We recently started a ministry just for 4th and 5th graders at our church. Our first event was a purity retreat at a lake house. We had over 20 kids participate, and it was amazing! God worked in some great ways. After the retreat, we asked kids to share testimonies of what God did in and through them that weekend, and one 5th grade boy shared a vision that God gave him of how God fills our lives with light and gets rid of our sin. After he stood on stage in a crowded room and shared his testimony and vision from the Lord, his parents came up to me in tears and told me that was the first time he shared a word in front of people, and that before he was even born, they were given a prophecy that he would be a preacher of God's word. This was the first seed from that prophecy.
Another 5th grade girl shared a testimony of God speaking to her and giving her a vision and word straight from HIM. During her time alone with God, she and a friend were praying and reading the Word, and suddenly they both felt the presence of the Lord, and felt Him speak to them, saying "Fearfully and wonderfully made...." and another girl got a vision of angels surrounding the room singing, 'Holy, holy , holy." What a powerful testimony!
Another 5th grade boy shared that God had told him was going to be a missionary when he grows up. When he was asked where he felt God leading him to serve, he simply replied, "I will be a missionary to the most dangerous places on earth. Places where people are persecuted and killed for being a Christian."
It was such a powerful weekend. We shared stories and played games, built relationships, prayed together, read the Word together, and had a blast. We made so many memories. We couldn't have done it without an amazing team of volunteers who are dedicated and passionate.
One key for success is including parents in the process. Parents were given information about what their kids would be studying. Parents attended the retreat and helped lead sessions. And we ended the retreat with parents meeting together with kids and gave parents a Scripture Guide and Prayer Guide and asked them to pray with their kids. They were given a purity pledge to sign together (optional). The next night, we had a special event JUST for parents, where we brought in speakers to equip and empower them. One speaker was from the Sheriff's Department, and he shared about keeping kids safe online, and the other was a licensed Christian relationship/sex therapist, who shared about how to talk to your kids about sex, and we had a panel for questions and shared resources. It was a wonderful and informative session!
The purity weekend was a powerful weekend, but it is only the start in helping kids build a foundation of living for Christ and purity. We will continue to mentor them, teach them, pray with them, and come alongside them in their journey. We have an opportunity to invest in the lives of kids and help draw them to the Lord, so HE can transform their lives and their hearts.
FREE PURITY RETREAT RESOURCES
I am attaching some resources for you, if you want to host your own preteen purity retreat.
Click HERE to download the sample pack from our purity retreat, which includes (in Word, so you can tweak):
And the Purity Pledge and Parent Guide
What other ideas can you share to help preteens live in purity?
My friend Heather did not particularly love doing housework and cooking, like many women. She was a hardworking mom to a beautiful 3 year old, wife to a wonderful husband who is a chef, business owner and restaurant owner, and worked full time as an accountant. She also helped others and volunteered whenever possible, served on committees and boards, and volunteered in the children's ministry. That's how I met her. Heather and her husband came to church several years ago, with a little baby. She and I immediately developed a friendship.
It was hard NOT to be friends with her- she was one of the friendliest people I've met, which is why she started serving in the First Impressions Ministry. She LOVED greeting and welcoming people to church. She became the First Impressions team leader, in charge of recruiting, training and heading up the ministry that made people feel welcomed and loved at church. Nobody got past Heather without being greeted warmly. She and her husband also served in the nursery, and basically ANYWHERE in the church that they could. My husband and I became fast friends with Heather and her husband.
She was an ordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life for God - full of humility and love, strong faith, and a willingness to serve God and serve others any chance she got.
Then, I got a text from her on Nov. 28, 2012 that said she couldn't come to church, because she was in the hospital for what seemed to be an infection. Two days later, on November 30, 2012, I was sitting her hospital room, crying and praying with her as she got the diagnosis: she had breast cancer. She was diagnosed with Stage 3 Inflammatory Breast Cancer.
From the moment she got the diagnosis, she put herself in God's hands. She was brave, and had unwavering faith. She clung to God and allowed Him to give her strength through her weakness. She was courageous and beautiful, and never stopped trusting Him and His plan.
Throughout her treatments of chemo, radiation, a double mastectomy, and everything else she went through, she fixed her eyes on the Lord. I recently read through all of my text messages with Heather from the last two years, and I was amazed to see how often she was the one encouraging ME and lifting me up.
Heather went to be with her Savior on February 17, 2014, just weeks after her 32nd birthday. But her legacy is alive and strong.
Before her diagnosis, and during her fight with cancer- Heather lived a life poured out for God; always joyful, always serving, and always striving to become more like Christ- that is her legacy.
She kept a blog throughout her fight with breast cancer, and these quotes stood out to me and have inspired me....
God IS Sovereign over me. "Sovereign" is defined as "A supreme ruler; Possessing supreme or ultimate power; Lord; King" He is my King and I am here to do as sees fit. He has a purpose for my pain. He is refining me. He is molding my faith, my values and my priorities. Knowing those two things - that he promises good for me and that He has the supreme power to see it through gives me solace in this struggle.
Just like with most things in life, the memories and emotions begin to fade and I settle into my "normal" routine. I spend my days trying to catch up on the duties that I've been unable to fulfill for the last week...most of which are the never ending kind of tasks. I find myself tackling them with so much more pleasure and joy than before I got sick though. I still get tired and I have to rest more. Like I said before, I'm not 100%...but I'm at least 80%! I've changed in so many ways over the last month and a half.
Each day we wake up to is a gift from God. I've always known that, but didn't understand it the same way as I am coming to understand it. I always thought that meant that in order for it to be appreciated fully that I needed to cram as much activity into it as possible. I'm coming to understand that sometimes the gift is just the joy we get in living it. My to do list is so full right now, but the to do list can wait while I put a puzzle together with my little girl.
My job was supposed to be taking care of my husband and two year old. I am supposed to be doing the laundry and cleaning the toilets and putting new pull ups on my little girl. I will never look at the mundane tasks of life the same again. Just like everyone else, I took the ability to take care of myself and my family for granted.
An "ordinary day" is a GIFT that shouldn't be taken for granted!!!! I'm going to try to make the most of every second!
I remember Heather saying that she couldn't WAIT to get back to doing regular things, like housework and cooking and cleaning and laundry. She said she wouldn't take those ordinary tasks for granted, because each day is a gift.
How many times do we get lost in the ordinary, mundane tasks, and complain about doing housework and caring for kids, work, etc., without taking time to thank God for those things? Heather won't get to pick up after her baby girl anymore, or take her to kindergarten, or share memories with her family. But you can. You have today. Thank God for the housework and cooking and cleaning...the regular days that are a gift from God.
Heather said an ordinary day is a gift, and we should make the most of every second. Don't let one day slip away without truly LIVING.
I will always be impacted and inspired by Heather's life. She was an ordinary woman, who lived an extraordinary life for God. I am honored to have known her. Instead of complaining about daily mundane tasks, I will thank the Lord that I CAN do housework, and make the most of the time He has given me. I will love more fiercely and serve more freely. I will find joy in the gift of each new day.
I hope I can become more like Heather, because that will make me more like Christ.
And I also have to say, in honor of Heather, "ROLL TIDE."
The phrase, "When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade" comes to mind...but it doesn't really work that way. We think that's the lemon is only ingredient we'll need, but then we realize that there's more to it than that...we need some sugar too. Instead it's more like when life hands you a lemon, give it to God and he'll send you back some lemonade. He will step in and fill in the holes in our life. He'll provide what we need, even when we didn't know we needed it. - Heather Ryan
Children are a Gift
kidmin leader, mother, and servant of the Lord.
These are the views of Lynne Howard, and are not necessarily the views and opinions of any church.