Does that title make you feel a little panicky? It would have panicked me just a few months ago.
Things have changed, though. Last Sunday we had our first teen (actually pre-teen) teach a lesson. I was supposed to be her helper in teaching the preschoolers, but one of my own children got sick. We called in the reserves and my partner, we’ll call her Loopy, stepped in to take my place. By all accounts, it went extremely well.
The week of the lesson, our young teacher came to my house and we planned out the lesson together. (Disclaimer here: My five other children were present, so I was not concerned with any bad reports issuing from our meeting. I know you have to be careful nowadays.) We looked over the story, Moses Parting the Red Sea, and talked about how we wanted to present the story. Acting it out seemed like a good idea, so then we had to decide which parts to include. I would type up the narration, script, actions, and discussion questions later. Then we figured out all the props and costumes we would need, and which characters. Some characters we contracted before Sunday, especially if they were more demanding roles. Then we racked our brains for craft, snack, and game ideas. That led to an Internet search for more or better ideas. We discussed our young teacher’s role and that I was strictly going to be her backup; she was in charge of actually leading the activities. That girl was chomping at the bit to lead!
Getting our teens to teach has been a goal of mine for a while now. It’s still a lot of work, though. You need to get their parents’ permission. You can’t just hand them a lesson and say, “Have at it! See you Sunday!” You need to come alongside them and go through the entire process together. They need to see it done, so they can learn to do it themselves. While it does take a bit more effort, I think it’s worth it. Here’s why:
1. Two brains are better than one. You can play off of one another’s ideas.
2. You are investing in the future. Not just the future, but the future of God’s Kingdom. You are training them for ministry at a time in life when they are receptive, have tons of energy, and still believe they can make a difference. I’d like to see you try to collect a roomful of adults who could be described in that way.
3. You are a positive influence in that teen’s life. Let’s face it, teens get a bad rap. They’re portrayed as being lazy, selfish, rude, disrespectful. Give them a chance to prove that stereotype wrong. All they need is someone to believe in them and an opportunity to prove themselves. Also, there is not a lot of opportunity for teens to contribute to the church in any meaningful way. Children’s ministry can be that outlet for them.
4. It’s a good use of the resources God has sent you. We don’t always get what we want. I wanted lots of willing and eager adults. That is not what I’ve gotten. I have, however, gotten willing and eager teens. Okay, I’ll work with that.