A group of teenage girls from the youth group want to serve in your church nursery. “We love babies.” One of them assures you “and we babysit all the time!” You want to honor their desire to serve, but how can you best implement it wisely?
You need to establish (if they are not in place already) a policy and procedure with regards to teenage volunteers. Sit down with your church’s youth pastor and ask for his or her input on which teenagers are most gifted with children. You can then establish limits on how often they volunteer (to encourage them to attend the church service and to have balanced involvement with other youth).
One teenager per room is usually best. Teenagers serving together may be partially motivated by the knowledge that their best friend or their crush is serving in the same room. Establish clear expectations about cell phones and other communication devices. It only takes a few seconds of adult distraction for an infant or toddler to be injured or frightened: The protestation “I don’t know what happened” is not appreciated by parents.
Establish clear expectations—being on time, teachable, respectful are some qualities you may choose to mandate for the teenage volunteers in your church.
Start out the teenage volunteer in a toddler room, besides providing valuable future parenting experience; this move will help to open the teenager’s eyes to the realities of childcare without risking the more delicate infants.
Be understanding. Not all teenagers will enjoy or be skilled at working in the church nursery. Thank all of your teenagers for the hard work they have done and encourage them to try a different area of ministry as they continue to discover and develop their spiritual gifts.
For those teenagers who are gifted and are passionate about working with children, take special interest in them. Take the time to work with them, train them and develop their skills. They may become adult volunteers in your nursery. Who knows? One day, when they have the proper biblical and theological training, they may one day work in children’s ministry themselves.
How wonderful it is! We are not just privileged to raise up the children in the Lord—we are privileged to train and raise up those who may one day be our replacements in His service.