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Empowering Student Volunteers

superheroLast week I posted about the value of Student Volunteers and how we can create environment that helps them stick.  One of the posts generated an excellent comment by Scott Kinney at Seacoast Church.  This guy doesn’t blog (to my knowledge) but he should be.  Maybe I can talk him into a guest here sometime?

Anyway… here is Scott’s comment…

We treat middle school and high school students as if they were adult volunteers. They go through the orientation process, shadow along side a current volunteer, then when they are ready we give them their own small group or area of ministry to lead. We also have a program called Nerve2Serve here at Seacoast that teaches 3rd – 5th graders the importance of serving in the Church, in the Community and in the World. I have seen over time that kids who start out fully commited to serving when they are in elementary school have turned into some of our best volunteers in high school.

This single comment is chalk-full of great guidance for kidmin leaders when it comes to empowering Student Volunteers.  

We can all agree that when students are challenged, they can rise to the occasion.  

So, how do we create an environment that challenges students?

Scott mentions three things that clearly communicate to Student Volunteers that they have something to offer.

Scott takes all his students through an orientation process just like adult volunteers. This is smart because it gives the Student equal opportunity to hear the vision and direction of the ministry.  Students have something to offer toward the vision. Inspiring them with the vision only helps them more.

Pairing Student Volunteers with qualified volunteers helps them to learn the ropes and understand how to do their role.  In fpKIDS, our most successful Students are the one’s that work with great volunteers that give them meaningful tasks. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished here.  However, I’m challenged by Scott’s comments to bring more students in as elementary Small Group leaders.  If we do this, we have to have a better system for mentoring to ensure we don’t place the student in a no-win situation.

I LOVE Scott’s on-ramp to serving, Nerve2Serve.  And I’m totally stealing it.

The idea of fostering an attitude that serving is an aspect of worship and is just as expected as attending a worship service or spending time in the Word. It’s just smart. This is going on my ‘must-do’ list for 2014.  Thanks Scott!

Here is where I want to foster growth in my Student Volunteer team in 2014.

What practical ‘tools’ do Student Volunteers need? Because of their lack of experience, most Student Volunteers that I know are not experts in managing a gaggle of kids. Some things are simply learned through parenting experience. And these guys are parents… yet. So what unique training opportunities (outside of mentoring) can I give them to help them learn these room management skills?

I believe that Students should be equally involved in appreciation & training events alongside every other person that volunteers in kidmin.  However, I also think there is value in creating community within the group of Students that serve.  Does that mean hosting an annual event that appeals to our Student volunteers?  Possibly.

What about you?  How do you empower Student Volunteers to serve in kidmin? What on-ramps have you created to bring students onto your team?


  1. My husband and I have just joined the staff at our growing church as the Kids’ Pastors. We have 2 services on Sunday mornings and our kids church serves about 50 kids. We also have a midweek outreach that serves about 70 kids each Wednesday. About 15% of our midweek volunteer staff are 7th grade through High School. Our students each serve on a team with an adult leader and over the past fall season have gradually taken on the tasks independently with the supervision of their adult. For instance, our Game Leader is now available for questions and debrief, but our student game leader does all the work, including finding and preparing the game and leading the game itself. We have a 2-hour Child Abuse Prevention course that we teach and with the parent’s permission, we include them in that class. Our student volunteers receive the exact same volunteer appreciation gifts as the adults, and we are careful to tell them specifically how their ministry makes a difference. We love our student volunteers, and the kids look up to them. In some ways, they are more engaged and faithful that some of our adults. Oh, and I’m totally stealing Scott’s Nerve2Serve, also!!!

    • Mary,
      Thanks for sharing what you are doing. And congratulations on your new role!

      You’re right. This is a great example of leveraging the potential in students and challenging them to take on more. Would love to hear more about what you’re doing in the future. g

  2. Thanks for the quote Gina! And I have started blogging scottdkinney.blogspot.com I was challenged by a friend to restart in 2014. I need to get back with you on some Kidmin questions that I have for you and your team – I’ll be sending those to you soon. Thanks again.

  3. I have had the privilege to work with Pastor Scott Kinney for many years at Seacoast Church. He has been a pioneer in Family Ministry in so many ways. The Nerve2Serve program has evolved into a huge part of the Seacoast Church culture and has been a model for many other campuses and churches nationwide. At Seacoast, we have had a successful summer program called Nerve2Serve:Missions Week, where the kids are challenged to do service projects in the church, in the community, and they also learn about world missions.

    Pastor Scott was also crucial in the development of the WonByOne Special Needs Ministry at Seacoast Church (Long Point Campus) that has made such an impact on our church families. We never knew how many of our regular attendees had a desire for a ministry focused to help children and young adults with special needs. It has also been another way that students are able to make an impact by serving in this ministry, by pairing them up with a child to work with one-on-one.

    Pastor Scott is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to his experience in Family Ministry. I highly recommend you to get to know him, follow him on facebook and twitter (@scottkinney). Oh….by the way, Pastor Scott does have a blog and he is definitely worth following! Check it out at http://scottdkinney.blogspot.com/

    • Thanks Terri for the kind words, remind me to give you a raise. I will say this I have a wonderfully talented team that makes my job so much easier.

      • I’ll agree with that, Scott. A reflection of a great leader.

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