I have heard people say that teenagers shouldn’t be allowed in Kids Ministry. This breaks my heart. Let me tell you why.
My parents have been in ministry my entire life. My parents also involved me in the ministry my whole life.
- I was 7 years old the first time I was in a puppet skit. I was so short, I could just stand up in the bottom part of the puppet stage (instead of kneeling).
- I was 10 years old when I taught my first preschool class. Granted there were only about three kids in the class, but I followed the curriculum every week.
- I was 16 when I was in charge of my own puppet team for one weekend every month. My team consisted of about 10 kids and young teens, and we ministered to about 300 kids.
- Almost every single summer of my childhood was spent traveling and ministering with my parents at Vacation Bible Schools and summer camps. So many road trips…
I am not saying all of this to brag on myself; trust me, I have my own problems. I am honestly saying all of this to brag on my parents.
Paul (a teacher) is talking to Timothy (a young person, new in ministry) in 1 Timothy 4:12 and says to him, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
I am going to turn the verse around a little. I want to use it to challenge you, the Kid Min leader, to not look down on the youth in your church.
- Help them set an example.
- Teach them how to be an example.
- Give them a place to shine as an example.
Here are seven things you can do to encourage the Youth Workers in your Kid Min.
1. Give them a job.
Don’t just have them be in the room and sit in the back. Give them something to do. Church was never really boring to me because I had a job. I did puppets, I taught classes, I was a small group leader and I ran a summer day camp. It was new and challenging.
Here is a whole infographic on jobs that kids and youth can do. And the list is really endless!
2. Trust them.
Give them a job and let them do it! Do Not Micro-Manage! And if they mess up, use it as a learning tool.
I remember the first time I ran my own puppet team. I was 16 years old, and tired of the old puppet songs we would always do. At the time, the band Hawk Nelson had just come out, and they had a song called “Bring ‘Em Out.” It has nothing to do with anything, just a fun song. I choose to do that song as a puppet skit.
After church, my dad, very calmly, sat me down and asked me bluntly, “What did that song have to do with Jesus or the lesson?” To which I replied, “Nothing.” He then told me that puppet songs should be about the lesson or some spiritual truth. He did not squash my spirit, he just gave me direction for my creativity.
3. Listen to their ideas.
They probably know how to communicate to the kids in your ministry better than you do. So, ask their opinions, and actually use them! I remember the first time my dad used one of my opinions. It made my day and encouraged me so much.
4. Remember that they are just kids.
Give them a break. I have a 3-year-old, she is so independent and she wants to do everything herself that I sometimes forget that she is only 3. Until we miss nap time, and she, like any toddler, becomes cranky. I have to remind myself that she is only 3 years old. Please remember that your kids are just that, kids, but they have leadership abilities and skills in them that you get to mold and direct.
5. Oh yeah. Remember they are just kids. (This is so important it is two points!)
When they make a mistake, forgive and move on. When I was about 10 years old, I was behind the puppet stage during the alter call at summer camp. There was a rubber chicken, you know the one where you squeeze it and it makes noise. So, I squeezed it (I have no idea why) and accidentally let it go. Thankfully, my dad, being the professional that he is, finished the alter call. I remember being so upset, and sorry. He forgave me. But I can’t help but wonder where I would be if my dad had reacted differently. If he had just given up on me and said that I am not mature enough to minister the Gospel. My life would be very different right now. (We still laugh about this.)
6. Make church fun!
One of the main reasons that I stayed on the puppet team for so long was that I had friends on it, and we had fun! On every mission trip, we would have at least one fun day. On one trip we walked around Washington, D.C. One trip we went to a Today Show taping, wearing our “Holy Ghost Takes the Chicken Out of Me” shirts. If we drove anywhere near Cedar Point in Ohio, we would always stop.
Work Hard, Play Hard; that’s what my dad would always say.
7. Tell them exactly what you expect of them.
If you don’t train them and let them know what you want them to do, it will just lead to annoyance on one or both of your parts. When they sign up, give them a paper detailing what their job duties are. They will need reminders. If they are not doing them, hold them up to it.
I am so thankful that my dad did not just throw in the towel the many times that I messed up. I am glad that he allowed the church to be a real place for me, and not just somewhere where we show up on Sunday morning. But he showed me what ministry is. He gave me a place and showed me how to set an example to the believers.
If you want your youth to stay in the church when they become adults, give them a place in the church now! Don’t wait until they are ‘old enough’ to do things!
Let’s give the youth a place in our church today!
We wrote a whole curriculum on Leadership, check it out!
This article originally appeared here.