Preparing Preteens to Thrive in Youth Group and Beyond…

I once spoke with the parent of a student in our youth ministry who made a statement that has helped to re-shape the way I conceptualize and prepare the students that I influence. The mother stated, “I am not preparing my children for me but rather to be successful among others.”

As a youth minister, that defining statement caused me to:

  • Re-Pent – I repented for only preparing students for the next levels (pre-teens to teens, teens to young adults, young adults to adults) within our church.
  • Re-Think– I now realize that I must prepare students to thrive and be successful wherever their God-given destinies take them.
  • Re-Shape – I now more clearly understand that I must take a “holistic approach” (body, soul, and spirit) to ministry.
  • Re-lease– I now prepare and release students to be successful beyond the life span of our church.

How do we prepare pre-teens to thrive in youth groups and beyond?

As a youth Minister and behavioral health specialist, I invite leaders to conceptualize and minister to students from a bio-psycho-social-spiritual perspective.  In order for students to be successful, we must provide resources that address every area of their lives. “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

Prepare students by taking into account:


Biological Psychological Social Spiritual
Genetics History of Trauma Support System Have they accepted Christ?
Birth and History Experience with grief/loss Peer Influence Have they questioned/reasoned their faith?


Illnesses (Past & Present) Impact of significant relationships (parents, grandparents, friends, siblings, etc.)


Housing Issues Can they defend and share their faith?
Medications Current Stressors Financial Issues How does their faith help them cope with life’s issues?


Substances Coping Skills (life’s issues) School/Vocational
As a leader, have you successfully equipped students to engage and evangelize their world?


Engagement with agencies/community resources As leaders, provide spiritual formation in the context of authentic relationships and community.


I’m not preparing a son. I’m preparing someone’s husband and someone’s father”- Social Media Post.

“A man that has not prepared his children for his own death has failed as a father.” (Coogler, Feige, & Grant, 2018).


Feige, K. (Producer), Grant, D. (Producer), & Coogler, R. (Director). 2018. Black Panther [Motion Picture]. United States. Marvel Studios.

Contributing Author: Morais L. Cassell, Behavioral Health Specialist; MA, MS, Ph.D. (Candidate).