How to Lead and Guide Middle Schoolers Who are Serving in Children's Ministry

Middle schoolers.  Most children's ministries have middle schoolers serving in their ministry.

They can bring fun, laughter, youthful insight and energy.

But at times, they can bring too much of these things.  

You will see them playing with the game toys instead of hanging with the kids.  You will see them squirming and giggling during the lesson. You will have to remind them to change your media slides while you are teaching.  

At times, it's like having more kids in the ministry.  You can end up feeling overwhelmed from trying to corral your middle schoolers and get them functioning properly so they can be an asset.  

Here are some tips on leading and guiding the middle schoolers in your ministry.

(Many churches include 6th graders as part of their children's ministry.  If that is the case, this would apply to your 7th graders.)

Meet with the middle schooler and their parent(s) privately before they begin serving.  It's important for the parents to be involved.

Share your general expectations for middle schoolers who are serving.  When you meet with the middle schooler and their parents, have a document that shares policies and procedures, wins, accountability and a job description (here is a complete list of job descriptions).

You can't hold middle schoolers accountable if they don't know what the guidelines are.  Present the guidelines in writing.  Have the middle schooler and their parent(s) both sign the document.  Keep this document on hand in case you have a middle schooler who starts misbehaving or is hindering the kids in their group.  You can sit back down with the middle schooler and their parents or guardian and review expectations.

Be sure they stay connected with student ministry.  I have found that some middle schoolers serve in children's ministry because they don't feel like they fit in student ministry.  Partner with your student ministry pastor/director to make sure everyone who is serving in children's ministry is also an active part of student ministry.  The student ministry pastor/director can work with them on this, but you should hold them accountable as well.

Invest in them.  The middle school years can be tumultuous to say the least. Middle schoolers will gravitate toward leaders who truly care for them and want to see them grow spiritually and in their ministry skills.  

Spend time talking with them.  Give them tips for teaching and leading small groups.  Train them how to operate a sound booth.  Give them a solid book on leadership to read.  I recommend the book Lead Well in Children's Ministry.  Pray with them.  Share a podcast with them. Give them feedback after observing them.  

Call them up instead of calling them out.  Kids get called out all the time.  They are constantly reminded about what they did or didn't do.  As you lead the middle schoolers that are serving with you, always be looking for ways to speak life and confidence into their lives.  Call them up to following Jesus.  Call them up to using the talents God has given them.  Call them up to the great plan God has for their life.

Pray God will use the time they are serving to prepare them for a lifetime of serving Jesus.  When middle schoolers start serving Jesus, amazing things can happen.  Many of them will go on to serve God for the rest of their lives.  Many of them will be called into ministry.  Many of them will become faithful leaders in children's ministry.  

That is my story.  When I was a teenager, I was not serving anywhere in the church.  All I cared about was sports, girls and my car.  My youth pastor approached me and asked me if I would be interested in serving with kids.  At first,  I said, "no."  But he didn't give up on me.  Finally, I agreed to come and check it out.  

It was a divine appointment for me. God grabbed my heart and turned my focus to reaching and discipling children.  32 years later, I am still following that calling. 

Don't focus on where the middle schoolers are right now. Look beyond and see who they can become.  Use your ministry to build them up and challenge them to continue to grow spiritually and place their lives in Jesus' hands. 

Your turn.  Do you let middle schoolers serve in your children's ministry? What guidelines do you have in place for them?  How do you train them and draw their gifts and talents?  Share your answers with us in the comment section below.