Imagine how reassuring it is when these young sixth graders see a familiar face.Have you ever continued to participate in something just because you have always done it? Why do I, as a children’s leader, volunteer my time in the youth group? Sometimes, I wonder if I continue to volunteer because it is something I have always done, or if I have a purpose greater than that.
Every time I consider this, I come back to the conclusion that I have a greater purpose in serving in the youth group.
Some children’s pastors out there double as the youth pastor. If that is you, I salute you. You put in a lot of time and dedication to shepherd the hearts of both children and teens. That’s incredible.
My foray into youth ministry was pretty informal. I just stuck around the youth group into adulthood and somehow became a part of the team. Working with youth was never my specialty (I’m much better with kids), but as I have gotten older, I have become more comfortable and do enjoy it.
Even though my introduction into youth ministry was informal, I find that there is great value in me sticking around. I also believe there is great value in the youth pastor volunteering in children’s ministry. Here are the top three reasons I believe a volunteering in youth group as a children’s minister is a valuable use of time.
Transition Into Youth Ministry
Imagine how reassuring it is when these young sixth graders see a familiar face.
The transition a student makes from children’s ministry to youth ministry is vital. It can also be tough. While discussing this transition could be a post of its own, there is one important way we can make this transition a much smoother one.
When a young 6th grader (or whatever age qualifies them for youth group) enters youth group for the first time, the unfamiliar can be overwhelming. The seniors most likely tower over them, there’s a new group of kids, and they are not sure what the service will be like. While some kids will jump right in, others might be tempted to hold back.
Imagine how reassuring it is when these young sixth graders see a familiar face. You, their children’s minister, greet them with a smile and introduce them to the youth minister. In time, they will bond with the youth minister, but you act as a safety net in the interim.
If the youth minister has spent some time volunteering in children’s ministry, the youth minister will also be a familiar face. What a sigh of relief that will be!
Raising up Student Leaders
I am often reminded that my job is not only to shepherd the kids but to also shepherd my volunteer team.
My children’s ministry volunteer team includes several student leaders. What I love about student leaders is that they are moldable. My prayer is that some of them will love children’s ministry so much that they will be inspired to be children’s pastors one day.
Volunteering in youth ministry is an excellent way to find and connect with these student leaders. Which students are sold-out for Jesus? Which ones take the lead in certain activities? Who possesses gifts that would be well-served in children’s ministry? I now have an idea who I can ask to be a part of the team.
I am often reminded that my job is not only to shepherd the kids but to also shepherd my volunteer team. When it comes to my student leaders, being present in youth group, playing silly games with them, and praying with them at the altar are some of the ways I can do that.
Since our youth group is on Fridays, I also get a chance to check in with those who will be serving with me the following Sunday and ask them if they have any questions about what they’ll be doing. It’s a win-win!
Support Between Ministries
While my ultimate goal is not to prepare children for youth ministry (it is to produce life-long followers of Jesus Christ, wherever they go), if I understand how the youth ministry operates, I can better prepare children for what they can expect when they move up.
I never want the children’s ministry to compete with the youth ministry. We are one team, laboring to lead young people to Christ and encourage them in their faith.
If the children’s minister volunteers in the youth ministry, and the youth minister volunteers in the children’s ministry, a feeling of unity can be fostered. The key to this is submission. When I am volunteering in youth ministry, I need to remember that I am not the one in charge. I need to submit to the directions of the youth minister. The same would apply for a youth minister volunteering in children’s ministry. If submission does not occur, bitterness and disunity will ensue.
The children’s ministry feeds into the youth ministry. I entrust the children I have guided and shepherded for years to the youth minister. This can be a hard thing to do. However, if we are a team and we understand each other’s vision, then I can faithfully let them go.
While my ultimate goal is not to prepare children for youth ministry (it is to produce life-long followers of Jesus Christ, wherever they go), if I understand how the youth ministry operates, I can better prepare children for what they can expect when they move up. What skill sets do they have and how can they use them in youth? What activities take place in youth and how can we model some of our activities after them? These are just some ideas to consider. However, if I’ve done my job right, the kids will leave the children’s ministry knowing how to live for Christ in any situation.
Putting it all together
We’re in this together, and volunteering in each other’s ministry is one way to foster this vital unity in the body of Christ.
My work in youth ministry is strictly volunteer. It’s not part of my work hours. I wouldn’t want it to be. I do it because my purpose is to continue to shepherd both those I have released to the youth ministry and those who serve under me as volunteers in children’s ministry.
The way I interact with these students is now different. I let myself out of the way a little bit so that they can build a relationship with the youth minister. However, any kid who passes through my ministry I will always consider as one of “my kids.” Now I get to watch them grow in a new way and raise them up as leaders.
My prayer is for continued unity between children’s ministries and youth ministries. It should never be an “us versus them” situation. We’re in this together, and volunteering in each other’s ministry is one way to foster this vital unity in the body of Christ.