When middle school and high school students serve in the children’s ministry, everyone wins. At least, that’s the contention of the team at Fuller Youth Institute. We do agree with them though. Here are some of the challenges and answers we have found in the process:
1. “Students mainly work in the kid’s ministry to get out of big church.” – This may be the case. When it is, it’s not healthy. We simply require all of the students who serve in children’s min to attend one of our other morning services, whether it’s s.A.M. 9 (our youth service) or the adult service. We are fortunate to have two services, so leaders can attend one and serve the other. If you have one service, you will just need to be creative in how you do it. The goal is to make sure that your students are involved in a service where they are not in leadership. That may mean they alternate weeks, or some other idea.
2. “Students are not mature/consistent/wise enough to work with the children.” – Sometimes this is true. We don’t just allow ANY student to work with our kids, anymore than we allow just any adult to work with them. We have established standards for who can serve, and our students have to meet those as well as our adults. We interview our students, and we work with them. Our children’s pastor even meets with all of our student leaders once a month in their own training meeting in order to address issues that are unique with them. It’s actually mentoring in disguise, but that’s besides the point.
3. “Students are great fill ins for holes in the ministry.” – No. They are leaders who need training, adult supervision, job descriptions, and consistent roles. They deserve the respect and support that all of the adults do. Having students in leadership is not just a bucket to catch all of the mess of children’s min.
4. “A student leaders is no different than an adult leader.” – This sounds like I’m going to contradict what I wrote previously, but actually it just goes in parallel with the previous points. While kids need to be given the support and respect as adult leaders, they don’t have the power or freedom of adult leaders. Sometimes a student will not be able to attend their time to serve simply because their parent has decided that day that they can’t. They may have been grounded, punished, the parent may have just told them they can’t drive them there, etc. This is why it’s important to get the parent’s to sign their own leadership covenant when a student signs up, so the parents know what they themselves are agreeing to.
I’m sure many of you can add to this list. I’d love for you to add your thoughts/challenges in the comments section below. What have you faced, and how have you overcome them? Or, what challenges have you not figured out yet? Let us know what you think. Tomorrow we’ll discuss the benefits to students serving in children’s ministry.