Don’t do ministry TO youth, do ministry WITH youth.” – Mike Pilavachi

I’ve just moved to a new church, following God’s call to join the team at Centenary Lakes Christian Community in Cairns.  One of the things that has impressed me the most about my new home is their Junior Leaders: youth who serve in the kids ministry.  It’s not rocket science and it’s not unique to CLCC, but the church has been amazing in the way they have raised up and are equipping teenagers.  These teenagers span across all high school ages and faithfully serve in our three kids ministry areas.  They are committed, prepared, gifted and are the backbone of ministry to kids through our church.  We still rely on adult leaders, but our junior leaders aren’t just token helpers or free labor, they are genuine spiritual leaders.

I haven’t quite tapped into all of the ways CLCC have raised up these junior leaders, but here are some keys:

  • Start with one or two who are obvious young leaders
  • Invite them to be involved in leadership
  • Give them responsibility, not just tasks
  • Invest in them with ongoing prayer, support and training
  • Let the power of positive peer pressure spread the word about how great it is to serve God as a junior leader.

Early signs are showing that junior leaders own their faith, are less selfish and are more likely to continue on in faith and leadership than their peers.  Our junior leaders haven’t just been the recipients of ministry, they have become ministry partners.

Centenary Lakes have blessed me with the gift of Junior Leaders and I hope to continue to build on that foundation.  Don’t ignore the potential of doing ministry WITH youth, they are ready and waiting to be included.

Geoff Snook is the Generations Pastor (Kids, Youth , Young Adults) at Centenary Lakes Christian Community in Cairns, Australia.

I used to be jealous of our children’s ministry because I thought they were getting all the attention. Space in our church needs to be shared; therefore, everything needs to lean towards “CHILD FRIENDLY”. Just like the teenagers I serve I would grow embarrassed by the “KID-LIKE” décor that filled the walls. I would wonder, “Do teens want to come back after seeing that?”

I eventually matured and realized that as a youth minister I need the children’s ministry in order to succeed. They are the future teens you will mentor. They are laying the foundation for what you do, and if they fail your job will be that much harder. So, what does that mean?

YOU NEED TO INVEST IN THE CHILDREN’S MINISTRY

How are you supposed to invest in the children’s ministry in order to create a better student ministry?

GROW WITH THE CHILDREN’S PASTOR
Not sure what the relationship you have with your children’s pastor looks like but it needs to be healthy. This means getting to know them as a coworker and a person. Schedule a weekly or biweekly meeting where you can discuss obstacles, share stories of success and challenge one another. The more you get to know them the more you begin to trust them.

SPEND TIME IN THE MINISTRY
I found that much of my frustration with the children’s ministry was due to old expectations. I always compared it to the misconceptions I had about children’s ministry. All this did was create suspicion. By observing the children’s ministry you will see how it is serving your student ministry. You will also be able to give your children’s pastor an outsider’s perspective.

ENCOURAGE YOUR TEENS TO SERVE
Just as you need multiples of volunteers, so does the children’s ministry. One thing you can offer them that they can’t offer you is a teenage workforce. Encourage your teens to give what they have been given. Your teens will not only be youthful and energetic, but a positive role model for the kids.

PUT THEM FIRST
While you may want a bigger budget, make sure it doesn’t come at the expense of the children’s programs. On top of finances, help them recruit leaders and help them communicate to parents about what they are doing. By serving the children’s ministry in your church, you are building the foundation of your future teens.

It’s easy to grow jealous of others if you are only focused on yourself. The way that your ministry will grow is if you learn how to grow with others on staff. After your pastor the best place to start is with the person running the children’s ministry. It’s not only your future but also your foundation. Help them succeed.

What are you doing to invest in the children’s ministry at your church?

Chris (Twitter)



Quick little promo video to help our high school students know about a great opportunity this summer – serving Saddleback Kids with our new VBS summer program called Sector 5. Looks like so much fun, so excited to get everyone involved!

JG