Teenagers can do a lot, but don’t expect them to take over and run all your programs. Remember, teenagers are young adults, but they’re also grown-up kids. From time to time, you may need to remind them why they’re there. “Help teenagers learn how to participate appropriately,” says Lennartson. “Make regular evaluation a part of your program, but remember to evaluate kindly; these aren’t just teenagers, they’re your partners in ministry.”
How to Start
If your church isn’t already welcoming teenagers into your ministry, start by identifying ministry tasks teenagers can do. Tasks can range from walking preschoolers to the drinking fountain to assisting adult leaders with lesson activities—or even teaching entire lessons. Lennartson suggests three levels of teen ministry involvement. When you’re ready to plug teenagers in, discuss your plans with your church’s youth director. Then announce ministry opportunities to the youth group.
Teenagers who are actively involved in church youth activities are likely candidates for ministry. “We typically use our confirmation class for this ministry,” says Shaw. “But we don’t leave out teens who may be uninvolved in the formal youth ministry program. Ministering to kids is a great way to involve teens who might otherwise find themselves on the periphery of the life of the church.”
After kids are involved, remember. Training, trust, and accountability help ensure a faith-growing experience for you, your teen partners in ministry, and kids in your care. “Young children respond very well to teenagers,” Shaw says. “I don’t know all the reasons why, but I’m just glad for the blessing.”
Are My Teenagers Level-3 Leaders?
Plug teenagers into one of the following levels of involvement.
Level 1: Helper
Helpers work behind the scenes doing tasks such as registration or snack preparation. They may pass out supplies, help kids complete craft projects, or participate in activities alongside the kids.
Level 2: Teaching Assistant
These kids are beginning to actually teach. They may lead one or more simple activities, such as games. Or they may act out a Bible story. Teaching assistants always have an adult teacher present, but when they lead an activity, they do it on their own.
Level 3: Teacher
Teenagers who serve as teachers often have their own classes. They’re responsible for planning lessons and directing kids in activities. They may have an adult or other teen helpers. You can pair them with adult teachers or staff members for mentoring and accountability. Fill teen teacher positions with senior high youth.
This article about teen volunteers originally appeared here.