I remember the first time I allowed preteens to serve in children’s church at my church. At the time, we were meeting in the gym. We had a stage set up in the corner where the automated projector screen was hanging. We would lower the screen right above the stage and project the words to the worship songs on it. That first Sunday, I was anticipating great things from the preteens. As the service kicked off, everything was going well. Then, I saw two of my preteen leaders in training running back and forth behind the stage. You know the rest of the story…the kids sitting in the service were focused on the girls going back and forth, like watching a basketball game. The children in attendance saw nothing except these two young ladies running back and forth. Out of frustration, I finally caught up with the girls and questioned, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” They told me, “We are helping.” I got a little angry at them for being a distraction from the service like they were. Then it hit me—it was MY fault. I never told them what I expected of them or gave them any form of on-the-job training. From that point on, I would sit the whole group down and explain my expectations. We would go through step-by-step what I expected of them. The amazing thing is that I saw them step up to the task like I had never seen before. Here are four steps to successfully train and equip children and preteens for ministry:
- Write out a job description. Don’t assume that they know what is expected. Give them a detailed list of your expectations.
- Give them on-the-job training. Kids can do amazing things when taught. It is a joy to see the kids running the sound system at my church. The leader can stand on the stage and tell them to turn on music or a microphone, and they can readily do it.
- Don’t be afraid to give them a more difficult job. Kids can do a whole lot more than greet at the door or pass the offering plate. Give them responsibility with high expectations. Yes, they can run the computer check-in at your church when properly trained…ours did.
- Match the job with their spiritual gifts. Each believing child is gifted by the Holy Spirit. This means they don’t have to wait to serve. They have a calling to serve now. Give them a spiritual gift test, and then plug them into your ministry according to their spiritual gifts.
 Robby Gallaty, Growing Up: How to be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples. (Nashville: B & H Publishing, 2013).