The Dilemma of Teen Helpers

Are you willing to invest?

by Rachel Pilcher/ June 16, 2015

I began helping in my church’s kids’ ministry at age 14. I began by helping with basic crowd control and ended up teaching a 3-year old Rainbows class. My call to ministry started while I was serving as a young teen in the kids’ ministry. I believe it is because I grew up in a church that allowed and equipped me to serve that I became a kids’ pastor.

So where do you start? We all know you can’t just let teenagers loose in your ministry and expect success. It takes time, training, prayer, and more training! It might require more effort to have teens involved in your ministry, but in so many other ways it makes your ministry better! Yes, it’s a dilemma, but imagine a kids’ ministry once you begin using teens as volunteers.

1. Teens bring high energy to your ministry. They are loud, boisterous, and love to have fun! They can get away with things that you would never dream of all because they are young. Teens create a fun environment for your kids!!

2. Teens are role models. Whether you like it or not, your kids look up to them. So use teens for good. You can mentor, train, and disciple them. Let their “immature” behavior rub off on your kids!

3. Teens are willing to do what adults can’t or won’t. Many of us have regularly walked into classrooms and witnessed adults standing in a corner visiting with each other (that’s a different blog!). Teens on the other hand love to play dress up, sing silly songs, and comfort a child that is nervous about staying. They may be young, but most are willing to do whatever is asked.

4. Teens are teachable, where adults often are not. Teens are still learning and desire to do their best. They want their leaders and pastors to be pleased with them. Pastors can speak into their life easier than an adult who may not be as teachable or as open to instruction.

How can you include teens into your kids’ ministry?

1. Chat with your church’s leadership. It is important to have their guidance and support in any new ministry endeavor.

2. Create a list of available areas where teens can be utilized in your ministry. (Examples: greeters, check-in, sound, media, worship team, preschool helpers, small group leaders, etc.) Always start new teens with these options and as you see growth, leadership qualities, and a teachable attitude, begin to give them more responsibilities.

3. Make a teen volunteer commitment form. Since you are working with teens, you will need to provide a clear outline of expectations and responsibilities for them and their parents. Require parents or a guardian to sign the teen commitment form. If parents are aware of the commitment of their teen, then they will be able to help encourage and get them there! Make sure to write and include a discipline policy for your teen volunteers. Finally, I also recommend having them complete these forms at the beginning of each school year.

4. Regularly provide trainings and discipleship. Working with teens requires you to provide more training and discipleship than you will need to give to your adult volunteers. You will have to provide correction and discipline with your teen volunteers at some point. The more you disciple your teens, the less you will have to correct.

5. Let them lead! Once you have a great start for your teens, step back and let them lead. See their potential and allow them to flourish in ministry. Let them fail! Remember the best lessons are learned from our failures.

Two years ago I was looking for someone to take over the praise and worship of our Kids’ Church services. I reached out to my Lead Pastor and he gave me a list of names to contact. I began to pray over the names and reached out to them. One by one they turned me down. I was frustrated. I prayed again for God to help with a solution. That same week we went to kids’ camp. The worship team was a group of teens from a different church in our district. Several teens from our church went as helpers and staff. They spent the week watching and worshipping with the teen worship team. Teens from my church spent time in the altars praying and worshipping with our kids (motions and all). God provided the answer! Our teens caught the vision and our praise and worship time was never the same!

Why not capitalize on teen talent and desire? There is no dilemma for me. I won’t work in a kids’ ministry that doesn’t utilize teens and their serving hands!