Looking to add some volunteers to your ministry? Teens can be an excellent option—they’re enthusiastic, motivated to learn, and excited to share their love for God with younger kids. We asked Brent Bromstrup, Group Mission Trips Program Manager and one of Group Publishing‘s experts on teen volunteers to help us understand the ins and outs of adding teen volunteers to Sunday school classes or other children’s ministry events.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your experience with Group Mission Trips.
A: I’ve worked on the Group Mission Trips team for 7 years. I write and produce a weekly youth ministry program called “Simply Youth Group” which is a video based youth group program. In addition, I carry responsibility to produce the yearly Group Mission Trip program which is experienced by over 20,000 Middle School and High School students every year. Prior to my coming to Group Publishing, I was a youth pastor for over 20 years and lost all my hair and most of my mind. At least my sense of humor is coming back in spots!
Q: What’s the greatest value in having teenagers volunteer in a children’s ministry environment?
A: Students who volunteer in children’s ministry bring energy and hopefulness that is well beyond what the typical adult may bring. Because they’re closer in age to children, they also carry a more immediate memory of issues facing children and have a much stronger degree of empathy and care as a result. And the children in your ministry get someone to look up to in the best sense. It’s important for adult leaders to mentor and coach adolescents who volunteer, but with the right coaching a teen working with kids will use their youthfulness and energy for a maximum impact. Kids simply love teenagers who invest time in them. They look up to the teenager and listen to what they say.
Also, for the teens themselves, it’s a huge step in giving clarity to their struggle with identity development. They begin to see themselves as more capable and gain confidence. One of the big recruitment tools I used when talking with teens about volunteering in children’s ministry is that they get to be a hero to someone. Their peers may give them inconsistent feedback about who they are and how they’re doing, but children will give a pretty persistent feedback of gratitude and a healthy dose of amazement at even the most mundane skill a teenager may have.
Q: What are some misconceptions about teen volunteers?