Every now and again, I run across an online ministry discussion and I’ll see someone ask the question, “should I used teenagers to volunteer in my preschool ministry?”
Just in case you’ve asked the question, let me give you my answer.
I hope that’s a clear enough answer. I honestly try to imagine a preschool without teenage volunteers and I have a difficult time visualizing what that looks like. Looking at my current preschool (3’s-5’s) volunteer roster, I have 76 volunteers, 49 of them are teenagers. That’s 65% of my volunteers are younger than 18.
If I’m being perfectly honest, 65% of my volunteers feels just a tad high, but that’s partly because we’ve been rebuilding our volunteer teams in this area. I’ll feel a little bit more comfortable when I have a few more adults. For me, I think we’ll be in a really healthy place where I’m somewhere between 50-60% teenage volunteers.
So why should you use teenagers in your preschool ministry? Let me give you a couple of my reasons:
TEENAGE VOLUNTEERS HELP WITH RATIOS
The honest truth. I just don’t think I’d be able to maintain healthy ratios without teenage volunteers. I currently have 27 adult volunteers in my preschool ministry (3’s-5’s). For me to have the number I need for adequate coverage, I’d need to at least double my adult volunteer base. I absolutely believe I can find 30 more adults to serve in preschool, but it’s going to take some time. It might take me too long, where I lose good volunteer due to not having enough volunteers before I can get all the volunteers I need. I’d rather continue to recruit adult volunteers to add to an already healthy team of adults and teenagers.
When I communicate my ratios to parents, it includes my teenagers. I may have 1 volunteer for every 3 kids, which may mean I have 1 adult and two teenagers for the nine kids in that room. Understand this though, you will need to pay attention to your ratios and the age of your volunteers. Here’s what I mean. You need to have at least one adult in every room. Teenagers can be FANTASTIC, but a nervous mom may not feel comfortable dropping a child off in the care of three teenagers, no matter how qualified they are. For safety, it’s BEST to have a second adult or maybe a teenager 16 years or older. I wouldn’t say that this is 100% required, but it’s a best practice, something you should definitely work towards.
TEENAGE VOLUNTEERS ARE COOLER THAN YOU
Let’s be real. Teenagers are way cooler than adults. Kids LOVE kids who are a little older than them. They look at them as heroes. They copy and imitate them. Adding teenagers to your ministry will definitely add energy and excitement to your ministry. Here’s one of the main reasons why.
Teenagers will often do what your adult leaders won’t. It doesn’t take much to get a teenager to jump on a stage and act silly. Teenagers are way more comfortable getting on the floor and engaging with kids on their level. Adults just tend to be more reluctant. They’re tired. They’re old. It hurts to get on the floor. Let teenagers tumble around with the kids because they’re ready to do this.
TEENAGE VOLUNTEERS NEED THIS MORE THAN YOU
I 100% believe that volunteering does as much or more for the volunteer as it does for the kids in the ministry. Serving gives you purpose. Serving gives a volunteer and outlet to use their gifts. Serving gives volunteers an opportunity to give of their time and energy. Serving is not doing someone a favor, it’s doing work that is near and dear to God’s heart. It’s his work.
Giving a teenager this opportunity can be TRANSFORMATIVE! They’re still developing. They’re:
Determining their direction
Discovering their identity
Working out their faith
Allowing teenagers to serve gives them access to opportunities to develop that are unique to serving. You need volunteers, but teenagers NEED to volunteer more than you NEED them.
So, what are you waiting for? If you don’t have a strategy to involved teenagers in your ministry, start building it now! Your ministry will never be the same – and neither will your teenagers!