Tween Spirituality: Offering Opportunities for Preteen Spiritual Growth

Tween Spirituality: Offering Opportunities for Preteen Spiritual Growth

by Marcia Stoner




A book for teachers and leaders of tweens with articles on spirituality and specific activities to nourish spiritual habits in preteens through Sunday school, worship, and other church settings. Included is a photocopiable section for leaders to use with parents to help parents understand what is appropriate in the spiritual realm for their preteens.

Includes activities that can be used within existing programs, ideas for including preteens fully in the life of the entire congregation, details on how to form a "Buddy Class" with another church group, and provides suggestions for teaching tweens how to actively participate in leading group worship experiences.

Click here for more information about Tweens curriculum.

For updated information and fun for your Tweens, visit us online at

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780687075515
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 02/28/2003
Edition description: Paperback
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Marcia Stoner is a retirededitor of children's Sunday school resources and writer of children's books. She has taught English as a second language both in Japan and in the U.S. She and her husband live in Nashville, Tennessee.

Read an Excerpt

Tween Spirituality

Offering Opportunities in Preteen Spiritual Growth

By Marcia Joslin Stoner

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2003 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4267-3457-1


Sunday School

Offering opportunities for spiritual growth should be central to the Sunday school experience of tweens.

Classroom Spirituality

• Make time for classroom worship every week (and make worship more than just a prayer).

Have a set time and place for worship. (In a small room, that may mean you clear your table of all materials at the end of the session, and you put a Bible and cross in the middle of the table.)

• Find ways for tweens to help prepare and lead classroom worship experiences.

• Be creative; use many styles of worship.

• Even though you use many styles of worship, help tweens establish some worship traditions (such as prayer lists, moments of silence, sentence prayers, and so forth).

• Introduce tweens to prayer lists. (This can be very meaningful and the start of a lifelong practice.)

– Use the prayer list for prayer during worship.

– Have tweens make a copy of the prayer list for home use.

– Keep your own prayer list of your tweens' needs and concerns, and use it daily to pray for your tweens.

Caution: Don't let making a prayer list take too much time. Tweens will use this as a way to fill time.

• Introduce your tweens to spiritual journaling. (You will probably never know it, but for one or more of your tweens it may become one of their most powerful, lifelong spiritual disciplines.)

• Practice spiritual disciplines in the classroom. Bible reading, prayer, times of quiet listening to God—all of these help set habits that many of your tweens may carry through their entire lives.

• Practice spiritual discipline yourself. Even tweens and youth model behavior more than words. They also can spot a phony quickly. Practice yourself whatever you ask of your tweens.

• Work with the pastor, parents, and the worship committee to find truly meaningful ways for things tweens have done in the classroom to be used in the corporate worship service.

• Do missions with tweens. This helps them focus on people outside of themselves, and allows them to put their spirituality into practice by interacting with God's people and by giving of themselves, their money, their talents, and their time. Missions are a concrete expression of faith.

Note: Make photocopies of page 9 to give to all your tweens to hang up in their rooms as a personal reminder.


Prayer is essential to any life. Understanding prayer and practicing prayer in different ways is important to tweens. Use the activities in this section to study prayer.

A Cluster Diagram

You will need (for each group): large sheet of paper, marker, paper, pencils.

A cluster diagram is a visual way to explore something. Ask your tweens to create a cluster diagram about prayer. (This exercise can be done as a class or in small groups.)

As a model for the class or the small groups, on a large sheet of paper create a cluster diagram like the one on this page, leaving out the answers. (The answers listed are examples only.) Write the word prayer in the center. Draw six arrows out in all directions from the word. Write the words Why?, Who?, What?, Where?, When?, and How? at the end of the arrows, one word per arrow. Draw circles above or below each word. As the group(s) discuss prayer, they are to write answers in the circles.

Prayer List

You will need: paper, pencil.

Many churches have prayer groups and ongoing prayer lists, where the concerns and the joys for which the congregation is praying are listed.

These lists are kept current, with new requests continually being added or past concerns being removed. Do a class prayer list. This allows tweens to voice some of their concerns. During each class worship, say a prayer for those people and concerns on the list.

A variation on the class prayer list is to allow each tween some time to write out his or her own list. Allow quiet time during each worship for the tweens to pray for their concerns.

Caution: Keep this activity to about five minutes in length; don't let it take over the entire session time.

Prayer Post

Give your room a special place around which to focus personal and class prayer time. One way to do this is with a prayer post. Invite tweens to create prayer lists that they will place on a group prayer post and use each session. Each week they may add items to the list or delete items from the list as situations change. Your tweens will add to the prayer post their individual prayer lists, so the size of your class will determine the height of your prayer post. Here are five options for preparing the prayer post. Let your tweens help stimulate your own creative approach!

1. Decorate a large cardboard wrapping paper tube and either mount it on a heavy cardboard base with masking tape so it can stand, or suspend it by strong wire from the ceiling. Glue clothespins to the tube—one per tween and teacher—to hold prayer lists.

2. Use an artificial Christmas tree as a "prayer pine" and use clothespins to hold prayer lists.

3. Use a section of one-inch PVC pipe for the post. On a twelve-inch square of plywood, mount a floor flange into which you will screw a male adapter that will hold the PVC pipe. A PVC cap on the top will finish it off neatly. These materials are all available where plumbing supplies are sold. If you wish, use gold spray paint to dress up the post and base. Add clothespins to the pipe.

4. Decorate a section of a bulletin board as your prayer post, providing pushpins to secure the tweens' prayer lists.

5. Use cardboard from a large appliance box or a foam core board available in office or art supply stores to construct a three-sided kiosk that will serve as your prayer post. If made large enough (each side at least twelve-inches wide), it should be freestanding and not require a base for stability. Using this option, create a prayer list "pocket" from construction paper for each tween and tape or glue it to the kiosk. Tweens can then easily remove their prayer lists each week and replace them when they are done.

Prayer Columns

You will need: four rectangular pieces of wood capable of standing alone, markers, napkin, cooking oil.

Use the ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) model of prayer to let your tweens make prayer columns from rectangular pieces of wood.

1. Have the tweens write a different ACTS word {adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) on each piece of wood using felt-tip markers.

2. Let the tweens decorate the letters with additional colors.

3. When the letters are dry, have the tweens dip a napkin in cooking oil and rub the wood rectangle with the napkin to create a soft sheen.

Use the prayer columns in the classroom, or have your tweens make individual prayer columns to take home. Have the class compose an ACTS prayer and use the prayer columns on a regular basis to help remember this ACTS prayer.

Prayer Box

You will need: sturdy box with lid; cloth, clear adhesive paper, scraps of prepasted wallpaper, or gift- wrapping paper; knife (to make slit); pieces of paper; pencils; glue (if using cloth or wrapping paper).

To make a class prayer box, cover any sturdy box (with a lid) with cloth, clear self-adhesive paper, scraps of prepasted wallpaper, or gift-wrapping paper. Make a slit in the top of the box to allow tweens to put their prayer requests in the box. Sturdier boxes like shoeboxes last longer, but if you use a less durable box tweens can have the opportunity to decorate a new prayer box now and then.

Keep the prayer box on or near the worship table. Keep paper and a pen or pencil near the prayer box and encourage class members to write prayer requests on the paper and put them in the prayer box. Assure tweens that all prayer requests will be confidential, but anyone who wants the entire group to pray about something can tell the class his or her prayer request and put it in the box.

Be sure to pray a general prayer for all requests that have been put in the box.

Prayer Tree

You will need: bare branch or bush, large container filled with sand, construction paper, scissors, markers, glue, string (or yarn), paper clips.

Put a bare branch or a dead bush in a large container filled with sand. This is a prayer tree for your class.

1. Have each tween cut two circles out of construction paper (about 2 ½ inches across), then cut a slit in the circles from one point on the edge to the center.

2. Have the tweens decorate one side of the circle, then turn the circle over and write the name of the people or causes to pray for on the undecorated side.

3. Tell the tweens to overlap the two edges (decorated side out) at the slit to form a cone shape and glue the edges in place. (Use a paper clip to hold the edges together until the glue has dried completely.)

4. To finish the cones, have the tweens knot one end of a piece of string and insert it from the bottom inside of the cone through the top of the cone, pulling the string through until the knot rests under the center of the cone. Tie the string at the top into a loop. Hang "prayer request" cones on the tree.

Note: If the cone is not tight enough to use knotted string, use yarn instead.

5. Have the tweens add cones to the prayer tree in future weeks instead of adding to a prayer list.

Prayer Chain

You will need: construction paper, scissors, markers, tape.

Have the tweens cut different colors of construction paper into long, narrow strips. Ask them to write one prayer request on each strip. Make circles (with the prayer request on the outside), looping each paper through another paper and taping the ends until they have created a paper chain. Have the tweens attach all of their chains together. Place this chain on the classroom altar. As the weeks go by, the chain will grow. Drape it around the room—walls, doorposts, everywhere. Each week pray for the concerns on the prayer chain. You might even have each tween select certain concerns from the chain to pray for each day during the week.

Cross Prayer Chain

You will need: construction paper, scissors, markers, tape.

During the Lenten-Easter season you may wish to add crosses to your paper prayer chain.

Have the tweens fold a piece of paper in half, then draw (or trace) a cross pattern onto the paper. Then have them cut out the cross, leaving it folded at the top so that you have a doublesided cross.

Ask the tweens to write one prayer request on the cross and then tape the bottom of the cross to the prayer chain. Have them repeat these steps for each of prayer requests. They may choose to use a different type of cross for each prayer request or the same type of cross for each, but use only one cross per request.

Prayer Braid

You will need: yarn, paper, marker.

To help your tweens with their own prayer time, encourage them to make a prayer braid. They can use the prayer braid to remind them each day of the things for which they want to pray.

1. Have the tweens write the name of someone or something they want to pray about regularly on a two- by one-inch piece of paper, then fold the paper in half lengthwise two times.

2. Ask them to take six twenty-inch strands of yarn, three strands each of two different colors.

3. Have them loop the yarn around a stable object with an open end, such as a doorknob or a chair post, with the middle of the yarn strands on the object. Then have them tie a knot to make a loop.

4. Tell the tweens to divide the strands into three groups, with each group made up of four strands, two of each color. Then have them begin braiding the yarn, treating each group of strands as one strand. Tell them to braid right over middle, left over middle, and so forth until you have braided one-half of the yarn.

5. Have the tweens place their folded paper on top of the middle strand, with the ends under each side strand.

6. Tell them to crisscross the outside strands over the paper and middle strand once and pull the yarn tight.

7. Tell the tweens to pull the middle strand to the front; and then loop it up, over, and behind the paper, bringing it forward below the paper.

8. Have the tweens tie the two side strands securely together under the middle strand, and let the strands hang as fringe.

Prayer Doesn't Always Come Easy

You can pray anywhere, at any time, and you can say anything. But it's not always easy to pray. Write your responses on the chart below, putting harder stuff toward the left and easier stuff toward the right.

Choose a Prayer Petson

You will need: basket or bowl, paper, pencil.

To help your tweens understand intercessory prayer and its importance, have them choose a prayer person—a person they will pray for during the week. This person will be from their class and will be chosen by drawing a name.

Ask each of your tweens to write his or her name on a piece of paper and fold it. Place the papers in a basket or bowl and stir them up.

Ask each tween to draw a name out of the basket or bowl. (If a tween draws his or her own name, he or she is to refold it and place it back in the container.) The name each tween draws will be his or her "prayer person" for the week. He or she is to pray for this person every day of the week. If the tween has a normal prayer time, he or she will pray for the person during the normal prayer time. If the tween does not have a normal prayer time, ask him or her to choose a time and pray each day, including this person in his or her prayers.

This could be a one-time activity, or you could repeat this activity for several weeks, with the tweens drawing a different prayer person each week.

Note: If you think your tweens would be comfortable in doing so, encourage them to take a moment and ask their prayer partner if he or she has special prayer requests.

Use a Prayer Calendar

You will need: prayer calendar, or list of missionaries and a regular calendar.

A prayer calendar lists the names of all the missionaries a church has around the world, and the purpose is for people to pray for those missionaries. The calendar normally lists the missionaries by their birthdays. At least one denomination has a Children's Prayer Calendar that lists the children of missionaries. You can pray for these children, just as you do for the adults. Perhaps your denomination has calendars such as these.

If your denomination has a prayer calendar, get one for your class. If your church does not have a prayer calendar but you can get a list of missionaries, make your own prayer calendar.

Tweens may decide to pray for a missionary whose birthday is on the same date; or perhaps the class would like to look at a globe, select some locations around the world, and pray for missionaries in those areas.

Personal Prayer Books

You will need: small journals or supplies to make a prayer book ( construction paper or heavy colored paper, white paper, markers, scissors, stapler and staples, ruler); pencils or pens; hymnals, books of prayers, books of worship, old curriculum student pieces, and anything else that contains appropriate prayers.

Explain to your tweens that it was a type of prayer when two blind men on the road shouted out to Jesus, "Lord, have mercy on us" (Matthew 20:29-30). All kinds of prayers are important in our lives. Sometimes it's difficult to get started on a prayer. Encourage your tweens to make their own prayer books that will help them in their personal prayer lives.

If you decide that they will make the books themselves instead of using purchased journals, do the following:

1. Let each tween decide how big he or she wants their book to be (one that fits in a pocket might be nice).

2. Have the tweens fold one sheet of white paper in half. (If they want to make the book smaller, use a ruler and pencil to mark the paper to the size they want it to be and cut the folded paper to fit that size.)

3. Let each tween decide how many pages he or she would like in his or her prayer book (for example, the book could have 8 pages, 12 pages, or 16 pages). Each folded sheet of white paper makes four pages for the book. Have the tweens fold as many pages of white paper as they need, cut them to the size they want, and then nest them together.

4. Have the tweens fold one sheet of construction paper or other heavy colored paper in half.(If they cut it, make sure it is slightly larger than the folded white sheets of paper.) Put this paper around the outside of the white pages.

5. Lay the books open and staple them two or three times in the crease where the paper was originally folded. Then fold the book closed again. The staples should hold the book together.

6. Encourage the tweens to decorate the cover any way they would like. Then have them write prayers and/or prayer helps in their prayer book to help them during their own private time.

Over the next few weeks have your tweens look at hymnals, books of prayers, books of worship, old pieces of tween curriculum, and any other material you might have that contains appropriate prayers. Let them choose which prayers speak to them and have them copy the prayers in their personal prayer books.


Excerpted from Tween Spirituality by Marcia Joslin Stoner. Copyright © 2003 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


How to Use This Book page,
Tween Spirituality (a lot more than worship),
Sunday School,
Classroom Worship,
Bible Study,
Creeds and Covenants,
Other Church Settings,
Lord's Prayer Event,
Tithing Event,
Healing Event,
Tween-Led Worship,
Congregational Life,
Buddy Class Projects,
More Congregational Life Activities,
Family Activities,
Field Trip Permission Slip,
Other Resources,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews