We’ll call him Jake.
That’s not his real name, but he is a real preteen boy. Last week, he came in like he normally does, timidly and looking a bit unhappy.
His life has been a little tough. His dad lives across the country, and he goes to spend time with him for a few months each summer. Mom says she left with the kids, in part, because of Dad’s “almost abusive” way of speaking to her and the kids. Jake has trouble in school, and is a bit socially awkward.
Last Wednesday night, in our preteen ministry, the lesson was about how the God of the universe was, at one point, a preteen boy.
Each of the 12 small groups provided answers to prompts like “Somewhere a typical preteen would wander off to.” and “How a parent responds to a typical preteen when they are trying to explain something.”
We took the group’s answers, and (MadLib style) stuck them into Luke 2:41-52. We saw what the story would have been if Jesus had been a “typical” preteen boy. Instead of being in the temple courtyards, Jesus was at a friend’s house. Instead of asking the religious teachers’ questions, Jesus was jumping on a trampoline. As he grew up, instead of increasing “in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man,” he started dating.
It was humorous, but delivered a strong point: Jesus was different. This point wasn’t lost on Jake. But…it didn’t have any affect on him.
We asked the preteens to write their answers to two questions: “What is God revealing to you tonight?” and “What questions do you have about what you’re hearing?” Then we broke into Small Groups to discuss what they wrote.
In Jake’s Small Group, he stared at the ceiling (like normal). But then, Danny asked a question he had written down: “Did Jesus have friends when he was a preteen?”
The Small Group leader, wisely, didn’t provide an answer. Instead, he turned to Jake and asked him, “What do you think, Jake? Do you think Jesus had friends when he was a preteen?”
Something clicked. The Small Group leader saw it happen. The question did something powerful inside of Jake’s mind and heart. Questions are like that. Maybe that’s why Jesus asked so many of them (the Gospels record over 300 questions from Jesus).
Jake looked straight at the Small Group leader—not typical for him. And he started talking. He talked for a while—not typical for him. He said something like this: “I don’t think Jesus had friends. He was different, and kids make fun of people who are different. Jesus probably spent a lot of time alone because he was different than everybody else.”
After Small Group Time, Jake was smiling. From the front of the room, leading worship, I noticed a difference in him. He worshipped like I’ve never seen him worship before. He had a look of peace on his face.
Something about being asked that question, searching for the answer and finding truth for himself had a great impact on him: “Jesus was different. Jesus understands what it’s like to be me. I have a friend.”
That’s the power of questions!
Questions have HUGE potential in your preteen ministry. Ask them. Make room for preteens to ask them.
Want to train your team on using questions more effectively in your ministry? Check out our newest training.
This article originally appeared here.