“Give it away.” This is a heavy suggestion forever etched into my brain by my mentor, quickly followed by the question, “what is the benefit in giving it away to (insert said person’s name)?” Think about this with me for a second. If we youth workers would take this question seriously, we would work ourselves out of a job. Is this a bad thing? In the words of Paul, “BY NO MEANS!” This should be our mantra. How can we give certain tasks and duties away? How can we empower leaders to take their next step toward Jesus Christ? I can honestly say that I have seen the most growth in junior and senior high ministries when we have empowered students, given them ownership, and have “given it away.” After all, the apostle Paul proved this theory over and over again as he handed
one ministry after another to other apostles and disciples.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Warning Against False Teachers As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine…” - 1 Timothy 1:1-3
Now that you hopefully see the value of giving it away, I would like to share with you four steps to getting middle schoolers involved. I need to start by saying that my way may not be THE WAY for the context of your ministry, but I hope it is a foundation for you to build off of.
Create a Task List
What weekly or monthly tasks do you do that you don’t have to do? When creating a task list, think about what you would like to see done during your service. Think about what needs to be done for your services. Here is a small sample list of the tasks that our ministry involves students in each week: welcoming students, announcements, worship, stage set-up, game, room set-up, coffee bar management, welcoming first-time guest, next step conversations, hype team, and technology.
Each of these tasks are critical to the flow and structure of each of our services.
Each of these tasks are performed every week by junior and senior high students. Once you define the weekly/monthly tasks, it is important to divide these responsibilities among different teams.
Create Teams That Cater to Your Students’ Personalities and Gifts
The task list above can be completed by any student in your ministry that may be gifted for those certain tasks. From the student that only wants to talk about Minecraft, to the student that is the biggest sports jock you know, each student has a next step to take. Let that step be taken towards owning a task within the ministry.
I’m thankful for other youth pastors like Delmar Peet, because he truly gets the importance of giving ownership to the students by helping them take their next step towards Jesus in serving. Before my arrival he had our Student Leadership Program broken up into five core teams. (Side note: Each team is led by an adult leader and one student coordinator that must be a junior in HS) These teams are as follows:
- Impact Team - These are mainly our extroverted students. Every week these students lead the announcements, game, welcome new students and first time guests, write “we miss you” cards, etc.
- Elements Team - This is our behind the scenes team. This team is in charge of set up and tear down each week. Each month this team will set the stage for the upcoming series. This team allows for the more introverted students to take ownership!
- Worship Team - They do exactly that! Our entire worship band consists of students. Each week they lead our students in 3-4 songs. They also create hype for students as they walk through our doors.
- Tech Team - Our tech team allows our technology savvy students to put their talents to use. These students run Pro-presenter, lights, live feed, and sound!
- Children’s Team - This team partners with our children’s ministry each week. This includes serving in large group time, assisting adult leaders, and helping with large Kid’s Ministry events.
Now, I understand that the way we do things may not fit the context of your ministry, but I would encourage you to create teams according to the tasks that you can give away!
Once you have a game plan, you can finally start recruiting! This step is crucial. For middle school, this requires communication with the student and their parent. When we recruit students and adult leaders, we look at their spiritual gifts and their personality assessment. When you know where someone is gifted and what their personality may be, you can effectively help them take their next step in serving in an area that is compatible. Here are a couple of links to the spiritual gift survey we use and the personality inventory we utilize:
• http://adbc.org/church-media/spiritual-gift- survey
This is a helpful tool as you “give things away.” You wouldn’t want to invite a student to the impact team who wasn’t gifted in serving or encouragement. Why? Because they wouldn’t have the drive to reach out to new students! You also wouldn’t want to place someone on impact team who is a beaver-golden retriever. These tend to be the students who keep to themselves. Making sure students and adults are plugged into areas where they exhibit strengths is key to helping them succeed and stay motivated. I hope that you are seeing the importance of implementing these tools in your recruiting phase.
Give it Away
The very last step of recruiting is your recruited students, recruiting other students. There is another name for this though — discipleship! As your students serve, they should be replicating themselves! This is when you know that you have successfully moved to the fourth step!
The fourth step is the hardest because it requires faith and humility on your part. The humility comes in when one of the teams fail, and you GET the opportunity to coach them through it. The faith comes in when you worry less about the things that you think you should be doing, and you begin to trust the spiritual gifts of these students given to them by God’s grace.
In short, these are four healthy steps to getting middle schoolers involved. Understand that our way isn’t the solution for every ministry context out there. However, this has been super effective for us. Giving students ownership of the ministry is going to give them courage to invite their friends to come hear the Gospel, because they know exactly what their friend can expect! So, begin taking your next step now, and GIVE IT AWAY.
Matt Sprinkle is serves as Middle School Minister at Alice Drive Baptist Church in Sumter, SC. He has a passion for working with middle schoolers with the purpose of helping them to establish their identity in Christ. Matt believes that the middle school years are some of the most formative years, as it will set them up for deeper growth in high school. He recently created the group MSM: Network on Facebook in order to create a resource point for Middle School ministers that are in the trenches with him. For more info, check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MSMNetwork/?ref=bookmarks or if you would like to contact Matt directly, he has kindly offered this personal email (Sprinkle.email@example.com) and cellphone # (803)354-2658!