My first VBS "worker" assignment was at the ripe old age of 12. My aunt was the teacher of the five-year-old class and she desperately needed a helper. We conducted VBS in the morning, ate a sandwich, and then spent the afternoon getting ready for the next day. We had 10 kids in an 80-square-foot room. For me the week was a huge lesson in flexibility!
While using teenagers - or in my case a pre-teenager - is not ideal for multiple reasons, mature teenagers can be the solution to a worker shortage, plus the week is an excellent opportunity for teens to begin serving and exploring their gifts and interest. Following are six tips to involving teenagers as leaders in VBS .
1. Training is of utmost importance. Failure to train results in frustration for teenagers and adult workers alike.
2. Training begins with the enlistment process. Establish expectations and accountability early and clearly.
3. Make sure teens are looked upon as full members of the team. If teens are mature enough to be enlisted for the team they are mature enough to be treated and respected as a member of the team.
4. Teens are more likely to become discipline problems when they are not given meaningful ministry tasks and the opportunity to contribute to the team.
5. Adult members of the team should assume a mentoring mentality as they work along side the teen leader, respecting the teen's ability to make decisions with some guidance.
6. Give teens opportunities to grow and stretch in their abilities. With a little discretion on the adult leader's part, teens should be allowed to experience what are sometimes seen as "adult" roles.
Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, serves on LifeWay's VBS Team as a Ministry Specialist responsible for training and events.