Too many churches forget a large pool of potential volunteers within their existing congregation – the young people, particularly those in high school.

This concept comes in part from the writings of Alvin Reid at Southeastern Baptist seminary in North Carolina. He reminds us that we expect teenagers to be best in the world at least at the Olympics. Dr Reid notes we expect students to be brilliant when they finish High School and enter the elite universities.  But in churches, we often give them fun and games and very little hard theology to chew on.  And except for an occasional ‘Youth Sunday” we never involve them in leadership.

  • Consider the model of the Mormon church, which sends their students to in-house Seminary training in their early teens. They become leaders and Elders that 16 and at 18 go to a foreign country for mission service.
  • The Jewish concept of bar mitzvah says that a boy becomes a man at 13 and is qualified to lead the services.
  • And yet most in the Evangelical community would not dream of having anyone less than a trained Seminary graduate run a service

If you teach them theology in their early teens and give them position of responsibility in their late teens you will not need for enough workers. This is in part because the teens will it be able to step in and in part because the growing number of teachers you will need for the growing youth population in a program that validates of their existence.

Bring in the high school students into the classroom and into the children’s area and let them be mentors and teachers. It validates they’re growing up gives them a sense of responsibility, and it lets them have work experience to go on a resume.

That last point is worth saying again. When students need to find a job they need to show that they have had a job before. So if you show up volunteer work is suitable for mention on a resume. Particularly if it is a particularly if it is a position of responsibility. If they at fourteen become a teacher’s aide or classroom helper and at 15 or 16 become assistant teacher or at 16 and 17 become Lead Teacher 2 + adult classroom manager or monitor or later. That all counts. And in the meantime you are building a model of future Church workers. They will understand their responsibility as a church members after they leave high school and into adulthood. They will be more mature in college they will be more mature in their twenties they will be better able to handle their own children after having monitored and managed children under the supervision of an older adult.

I have long held that the key age group is Middle School. When I was in charge of scholarships for my professional Society I had good sources of research that showed me that sixth graders had enough knowledge to start putting together complex subject but we’re still curious enough to explore new Concepts. By the time they got to high school they were starting to narrow their options and focus their attention and be distracted with the opposite sex.

If instead you capture their attention as middle schoolers and grew their participation through leadership the odds would go up but they would stay with that perspective for a lifetime.