8 Keys to Getting Students Serving in Your Ministry

A few years ago, while at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, I stopped to watch one of the  parades.  Everything was over-the-top as usual, but one thing in particular really stood out to me.  It was the age of the characters in the parade. They were all high school and college-age students. 

Turn over to the Disney channel and you’ll see the dominant age of the actors in their sitcoms is high school.  And think about Disney movies like High School Musical that featured high school students.  It was released in 2006 and set a record for viewership with over 7.7 million people tuning in for the first airing.  Disney knows that middle school, high school and college students are kid magnets.  That’s who kids look up to.  That’s who’s “cool” to them.  That’s who they want to be like.  If you want to have a dynamic children’s ministry team, then enlist students.

I believe some of your best volunteers are sitting in the student ministry at your church.  Students have so much to offer kids.  They have energy, excitement and enthusiasm.  They can teach, be in videos, host small groups, lead worship, pray with kids, greet, run tech and fill a host of other important roles.  They can infuse life into your children’s ministry.

Here are some keys to enlisting students:

Build a relationship with student ministry staff and volunteers. Share with them the vision of students serving and making an impact in children’s ministry.  They want to see their students growing in their faith and making a difference.  Partner with them. 

Become a familiar face.  Attend or volunteer at some student ministry activities, classes or services.

Broadcast the vision.  Students are drawn to vision.  They are looking for opportunities to make a significant impact.  Share with them what a huge difference they can make in a child’s life.

Be yourself.  Don’t try to be “cool” or try to “fit in” with them (unless you’re 25 and under).  They will see right through it.  Just be yourself...an authentic leader.

Begin asking students who are currently serving to share the vision with their peers.  Students usually come to serve in groups.  Ask them to invite their friends to serve with them.

Be clear about expectations, structure, and guidelines.  Have it in writing, go over it with them and have them sign an agreement they will abide by before they start serving.  Students, especially middle-schoolers, can still be immature at times and need clear direction and boundaries.

Bring their parents into it.  If the student is under 18, have their parents attend the meeting mentioned above and also sign an agreement that their child will follow the guidelines established.  This helps in case you need to address any issues with the student later.

Believe in them.  They are called out all of the time for what they’re doing wrong.  It’s time we call them up to all that God wants to do in them and through them.  Pour into them.  Encourage them.  Be their biggest fan.  You’ll be amazed at what they can do if you believe in them.

When I was 16 years old, I was your typical student.  All I cared about was my car, basketball and girls.  But then my Youth Pastor approached me about serving in children’s ministry.  He told me he saw something in me and believed I could do great things in ministry.  At first, I said no, but he kept asking and finally, I agreed.  Once I started working with kids, God confirmed my calling and here I am 33 years later still serving in children’s ministry.  There are students in your church just waiting for you to believe in them and give them an opportunity to serve.

This is an excerpt from the chapter Constructing Teams Like Disney in my new book If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry.  You can get your copy today at www.kidminmouse.com