Wait? Am I supposed to use teenagers in my ministry or not? Am I confusing you?
Let me clarify. Our preschool ministry should be BRIMMING with teenage volunteers. Preschool is an AMAZING place to serve. Unfortunately, children’s ministry has a reputation of USING teenage volunteers.
Kidmin often has a weird relationship with teenagers.
- Many teenagers are irresponsible
- Many teenagers are undependable
- Maby teenagers are just as much work as the kids they’re supposed to serve
I know many leaders who avoid using them if at all possible, but that’s better said than done. We need them. We need them to be an extra set of hands. We need them to run stuff. We need them to help us meet our ratios.
The church has a reputation of USING teenagers.
All those things can be true of MOST teenagers, but I think we really need a different perspective of teenagers:
INVEST IN THEM
Teenagers are incredible helpers, but they’re just a few years down the road of the kids they’re serving. Our teenage volunteers are not yet done developing. Their remaining years in school is so important. Who they ultimately become is largely influenced by this remaining season. Encourage your adult volunteers to invest in these teenage volunteers while together, they invest in the kids. The more positive voices speaking into the lives of teenagers, the better.
Most teenagers are undependable or irresponsible because we haven’t always treated them the same as our adult volunteers. Whatever process we have for the adult volunteers, require that of the teenagers. Don’t prioritize the training for the adults and wait until you have enough teenagers before training them. Set them up for a win. Recognize though that your training for teenagers isn’t as accurate for teenagers. Take the time to train your teenager specifically, informing of what the can and can’t do as teenagers.
RAISE THE EXPECTATIONS OF THEM
I believe that too many teenagers are undependable or irresponsible because we let them be that way. We allow them to serve in our ministry, but we really don’t give them anything significant to do. We ask them to play with the kids and do menial tasks. What if we gave our teenagers a chance to lead? What if we gave them some responsibility they had to prepare for? In almost every instance I’ve seen, raising the bar of expectations for teenagers gives you better teenagers for your ministry. They can do it, you just have to give them a chance.
Don’t ever use a teenager again. Invest in them, equip them and raise the expectations of them. Your preschool then becomes an extension of your youth ministry, a place where teenagers become who they need to be as they impact a group of preschoolers.