My two-year-old son comes home every Sunday talking about Aiden. He asks me at least three times a week when he wakes up if he is getting to go to see Aiden that day. The bottom line is, he loves Aiden! Aiden isn’t his little buddy, nor is he my son’s uncle or cousin. Aiden is a 16-year-old boy who has willingly decided to help serve in the two-year-old class at our church. He isn’t one of the main teachers, but he helps the other teachers facilitate the activities, hand out snacks, and most importantly, he makes my son, and all the other children, laugh. The truth is, although he is helping teach those kids about Christ, I’m sure they are teaching him a thing or two as well.
Aiden is a perfect example of how a student can successfully serve in student ministry. Whether they know it or not, students crave feeling needed. They want to make a difference, and most of them would love to work with children; they just aren’t given that opportunity.
Many of us are terrified at the thought of having a teen or even pre-teen alongside us in our pre-school group. If we wanted to be in charge of teenagers, we would be SGLs in student ministry. But we aren’t. We know our forte. It’s goldfish and finger painting baby Jesus—not puberty and gossip. But if you’ve ever had a student helper in your group you already know the benefits far outweigh the potential fears. It’s simply about knowing their sweet spots. What can they be in charge of? Where will they shine brightest?
Here are just a few suggestions for where they can and should serve:
- Apprenticing with an adult in the 1s, 2s, and 3- to 5-year-old classes. As an apprentice, students can help the SGL facilitate activities. They can help provide snacks, and they can simply play with the children, etc. As an apprentice, these students’ goal is to build relationships with those kids—to make them laugh and want to come back.
- Helping lead music in Large Group. Some students love music and are eager to be in front of a crowd. These students might thrive in helping lead the music and do the hand motions for Large Group. You might have an older student capable of leading the music on his/her own, but a younger student might be great at just helping the existing volunteer.
- Helping run the tech side of Large Group. For some churches who have larger Large Groups, there might be a need for a student to help run the soundboard, to push buttons, and to start videos. At our church, we have a high school guy who volunteers doing that very thing each Sunday. He is on the shyer side, so this role is perfect for him.
Those are only three examples of great ways to incorporate students into your preschool group. Watching students light up when working with kids, having students practice responsibility by showing up and serving each week, and seeing preschoolers excited to see their student volunteer every Sunday, makes student service a win-win for everyone.