In a previous blog post, I discussed some of the reasons why a worship leader should be using students, both high school and college, in the music and worship ministry of the church. In this post I want to discuss how to do that. Here are five ways things that you should keep in mind when you use students in your worship ministry:
Use them consistently. Many times the attempt to use students in the worship service comes in the form of what has been called, “Youth Sunday.” When I was a teenager, this happened every time there was a fifth Sunday of the month. The youth group would typically be in charge of doing everything in the worship service on that day such as singing, playing the instruments, taking up the offering, reading Scripture, praying, etc. Though the intentions behind this are good, I think that it communicates that they are only worthy of being used a few times a year. I would dare say that they should be used just as much as anyone else regardless of their age. I have teenagers and college students helping me lead worship every single week and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Be intentional. When you have them on the platform, you aren’t just training and using musicians and singers. You are training leaders, servants, worshipers, and disciples. Treat this opportunity as such. Like I stated in my last post, they will never forget these times that you entrust them with. So make the best use of them.
Encourage them. Many of these students are just starting out on this journey of musicianship and worship leading. With this lack of experience can often times come insecurity. They need positive reinforcement from you. They need to feel valued and appreciated. They need permission to not play or sing perfectly and to mess up every now and then. You are not only using them to benefit your ministry, you are shepherding them into a ministry that they will hopefully be involved in for the rest of their lives. They need to be in an environment where they are set up to succeed and they feel empowered and fulfilled. You as the leader can provide that for them.
Have patience. Because they are young, they might not be as developed in their skills as you are. You need to understand that and be able to work with them on their skill level. They may not be as good with time management or keeping their commitments as others. This will require that you still be clear on your expectations, but also have some understanding of where they are in their lives. Because they are young, sometimes they may not have a car to drive themselves. They may be relying on a parent, a fellow team member, or you to come pick them up. Do that with joy. They are willing to still give their time and talents to the church and to your ministry in spite of this obstacle.
Give them grace. Things come up in a teenager or college student’s life. Sometimes it may be spiritual issues, it may be time management issues, or it may be a lack of discipline. Either way, you are shepherding them. They will be a huge asset to your team and you can have a huge influence in their lives. Always seek understanding and be graceful when things come up that may cause your plans to not go as smoothly as you had hoped.