Have you ever had someone challenge you? I remember when my high school baseball coach challenged me. I was a junior, and I asked him what it would take for me to play college baseball. He told me, “Adam, you’re too small to play in college.” My 6’3, 165-pound self could’ve gone two ways. One, I could’ve taken it as my coach not believing in me. Two, I could’ve taken it as him raising the bar and challenging me to gain weight so I’d have a better chance of playing at the next level.
I chose to view it as a challenge.
In ministry, so many times adults lower the bar for students when it comes to serving. I believe that students will rise to the standard we set for them. If we don’t give them something significant to do, they will never fully understand what demonstrating God’s love to the world is all about. Also, if we don’t believe students can put others first through serving, they never will.
At Rock Point in Chattanooga, we want every student that comes through our doors to have the opportunity to serve. We call them “Student Impact Volunteers.” These students serve alongside adult volunteers in our Family Ministry environments (middle schoolers can only serve in preschool or children’s environments, not middle or high school). We treat Student Impacters the same way we treat adult volunteers. They just have different responsibilities.
When we launched this, we were surprised by the number of guys who wanted to serve, especially middle school guys. It’s true! These are the same guys who want to grow beards and claim that they were born to play Call Of Duty.
I believe if you…
- ask middle school students to consistently show up each week
- empower them to lead activities
- and motivate them to engage with kids
…you will see what it’s like to fuel the next generation to be the church. Students want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to do something valuable, and they want to be valued in the process.
Here’s a story of this in action: A while back, a dad and I had a conversations about his teenage son not talking with him unless it was about video games. Last week he shared with me, “You won’t believe it! Out of the blue, on the way home from church, my son shared with me something about him serving.” The son told his dad about a boy named Dee who was in the classroom he served in. Dee was shy. The son said, “Dad, now I get why they need us every week in Waumba Land (our preschool environment). It’s because these kids need us to be consistent. Dee’s shy and doesn’t talk to anyone. But today he played with me, and I made him laugh! It’s because Dee sees me every week.”
This is one story of many. Students feel significant when we raise the bar and give them something significant to do. Middle school students’ leadership skills are raw and need to be managed. But if we take the time, invest, and empower them, the potential is not only unlimited—it’s unstoppable.
So what’s your one step? Give students an opportunity to serve in your church.
Start doing it as soon as you can!
Adam Roberson the Director of Student Ministry at Rock Point Church in Chattanooga, TN. He has a keen awareness of what the world throws at students. He has a heart to help them fight through it and see the difference living for God can make in their lives. Adam and his wife, Monica, live in Chattanooga with their two boys, Jackson and Beckham, and have baby number three on the way.