In children’s ministry, finding volunteers seems to be a constant struggle. One great source of volunteers can be the high school kids in your church. The kids seem to love them, and they can be a great source of help. There is another side though that anyone who has worked with with high school volunteers can attest to. They can be extremely frustrating at times. Whether they are busy socializing with one another or just not contributing to the effort, teenagers can present a wide variety of issue. What I have found about teenagers though, and the same is true with individuals of all ages, is that encouragement goes MUCH farther than criticism.
With any volunteer, and especially with teenagers, it is important that you make your expectations clear. I like to remind students that work with me that I do not expect perfection. I DO, however, expect excellence. To me, excellence means reviewing your script prior to Sunday morning. Excellence means getting the point/Bible story across to the kids in a way they will understand and remember. The words don’t have to be exactly right, but the concept or main idea must be clear. I would much rather that a teenage volunteer summarize the main points than hide or read a script on-stage. I try to make that clear to them very early on in their service.
I was taught early on in life that God does a lot for each of us every single day. Giving back to Him, and giving the best we have, should be an every day offering. Ultimately, that is what I want the high school volunteers who work with me to understand. As a leader, it’s unreasonable for us to expect anyone working for us to be perfect. However, if a child walks out of Church Sunday morning (after participating in a class/program I was leading) KNOWING who Jesus is and wanting a personal relationship with Him, I’ve done my job! I will know He’s pleased! This is the same standard I hold the high school volunteers who work with me to.
What standards do you have for your high school volunteers? How do you communicate those standards?