What If Series: Teens Teaching (Teen "Pastors")

It’s nothing new to have teenagers help or even be the lead teacher in a kid’s classroom. In fact, of the 230 volunteers that serve every month about half of them are teenagers. They come ready and willing to serve. They are faithful and for the most part do not need a lot of direction. Orange and other family teaching curriculum/philosophies are great and if that’s what your church does—keep doing it. This by no means has anything to do with challenging other great organizations.

This weekend I have a sixteen-year-old boy who is the lead teacher for our 10am elementary grades service writing and producing the curriculum. He actually asked me if he could. He wrote an incredible lesson about healing. Not only did he write the lesson, but he also got together with our media department and produced a video and it was incredible. All this led me to start thinking as I saw about 8-10 teenagers get together themselves to teach the next generation…

WHAT IF teenagers took what they learned from the adult worship experience, their own youth worship experience, small groups, etc and created lessons for children. Picture Johnny who just learned how to overcome temptation in his youth group and now he gets together with his friends and they create lessons for kids based around what they just learned. Do you realize what this does? The kids will love it because you have energetic young people (who kids look up to and want to be like) teaching classes; parents and church staff love it because what better extracurricular activity is their then to be working on kids church lessons and teens will be showing how much they learn by teaching the next generation. All of a sudden they are putting to practice what they’ve been taught; they are having to think a little bit more about what Mr. Lead or Youth Pastor said.

I wonder what creative ideas would come out. I wonder if church involvement would skyrocket. What if an entire youth ministry was involved with changing the next generation? All of a sudden the children’s pastor becomes an encourager and works with the youth pastor to change kids’ lives. Teens learn it one week and teach it the next. What if?

Napkin Conference with Hillsong’s David Wakerley!


  1. Cool post.

    This is actually what we have going on in our Children’s Ministry right now, for our 9am pre-teen (4-5 grade) service. The dynamic this produces is very interesting. It is both incredible and, at the same time, challenging. There are about 6-8 teens in the room, one or two 14 year olds, the rest up to seventeen. The best part of it was that no “recruiting” was really necessary. It was very organic! First, one teenage girl got involved, then her friend, and their friend, and eventually what happened in the ministry was talked about, and joked about when they all hung out, and other teens wanted in!

    The energy level in the room is through the ceiling – in a positive way. Kids connect with the leaders in an amazing way. It’s great to have solid teens leading in a room like that. Some preteens need a healthy teenage role model, some preteens need to be told that they really are cool by a teenager, and some preteens will be quicker to listen, open up, and converse with a teenager. Some preteens need all of that!

    But, as I said, it is also a challenge. Some of the teenage leaders can’t drive, so the commitment is shady. In that room, there isn’t a really committed natural leader who steps up and can guide the flow of that room, which means keeping some of the other leaders in line… Some leaders are a bit too childish in some regards, and act a bit immaturely in different situations. Sometimes, the leaders can want to be “buddy” moreso than “leader” to the kids their ministering to. Also, some leaders don’t earn their respect with kids, because the kids see them as just one of them. (Now, I don’t subscribe to the common saying “Don’t be their buddy, be their leader”, because it’s grossly simplistic, but I digress…) Some of the younger ones don’t have a very solid theological base from which to guide the preteens. (So we try to make sure they are not leading a small group, but maybe helping out with a more spiritually mature partner) And, of course, some parents have issues with there not being an “adult” in the room.

    Now, a lot of this has to do with our specific group of kids (i.e. “Some of the younger ones don’t have a very solid theological base from which to guide the preteens” – this of course depends on your specific group of teens). But this is what we’ve experienced in doing this.

    In the end, teens can lead. Teens need to lead. And we, as leaders of the leaders, must provide appropriate venues in which they can lead. I know this because I started serving in my children’s ministry when I was 12 or 13 years old. I’m now just shy of 18, and currently coordinate our Preteen Ministry to 4th and 5th graders on a team of 11 in our Children’s Ministry. It all depends on the team.

    If you want to talk more about this, feel free to email me!
    c l a y g AT c o r n e r s t o n e w e b . o r g
    (without spaces… and with the actual @ symbol…)

    1. Clay, sounds great! I get excited to when leaders put teenagers in a place where they can grow and lead others. We’ve been using teenage leaders for over two years. We have teens in all five of our weekend experiences and they Lead Teach three of five of them. We go through some of the same scenarios as you.
      Glad you’re raising up leaders early!

      I always do this shameless plug, but check out http://www.napkinconference.com. We’d love to see you in Las Vegas! 🙂


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