Friday, February 11, 2011

Ideas for Helping Children Under the Age of 16 Serve

I understand implementing a minimum age of 16 as a requirement for serving in all areas of your children's ministry is a controversial and difficult step to take for many, if not most, churches. However; if we are serious about doing all we can to make our children's ministries the safest place we can, it is necessary. This doesn't mean that young teens can not serve in our churches, it just means we need to be creative and intentional in engaging them in areas where they can serve! Consider some of the following ideas for helping young teens develop a positive history and experience serving in their own church.

  • Invite young teens to be part of a "Children's Ministry Prep Team". Most curriculum resources include activities which require making copies, picking up supplies from the store, gathering supplies and in our preschool ministries, cutting out craft items. Involve these young teens in preparing these resources and you will not only be giving them an opportunity to be involved in your children's ministry, but you will also be providing a service to your volunteers as well.
  • Young teens often want to help in the nursery, but they are just not old enough to do so. Consider involving them as part of your "Nursery Prep Team" and provide an adult to supervise a time before or after mid-week ministry where they clean the toys and place them in baskets for each service. This will help you keep your nursery as safe as possible and give these teens an opportunity to serve the young families in your church!
  • It is important that we put in place a plan to let the children in our ministries know they are loved and if they are absent, we noticed. Involve young teens in your children's ministry by inviting them to be part of your "Children's Ministry Connections Team". These children will meet after services on Sunday and check the attendance lists. If there is a child who is absent, they will be sure to send them a card. If there is a child who has a birthday, again the will send a card. If you have a visitor, once again, these young teens will send a "we are so glad you visited us" card. This again gives these kids a way to serve and helps your children's ministry communicate to the children in it that they are valued - outside of class!
  • I love supporting and encouraging volunteers! Consider inviting young teens to be a part of your "Volunteer Surprise Team"! Meet with these teens once a month to plan a "surprise" to support, encourage and thank your volunteers . . . you might plan to have volunteers stand in the service while the pastor prays for them and their ministry and then have your "Volunteer Surprise Team" present each volunteer with a daisy one month and another month you might have them visit each class with a brief "singing telegram"! Use your imagination and have fun with this - not only will it give you another way to involve young teens in your church, but it will support and encourage your volunteers as well!
You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to finding ways for young teens to serve in your church. Working directly with children is not the only way for these teens to be involved. Provide these types of opportunities for young teens to serve and then when they turn 16, invite them to be trained and serve as a volunteer working with the children!

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