I’m going to brag a little in this post. Something happened yesterday that I didn’t expect. No one told me it was going to happen. However, seeing what happened encouraged me like nothing else.

I was the story teller in Elementary which meant I was stuck in our elementary environment most of the day. Although I had time between services to walk around a little and check on other areas, I spent most of my time backstage and with the other elementary large group volunteers. The first two services had gone very well and when 12:30 came around, I was excited to wrap up the final large group experience of the day. When I walked out on stage after worship, I looked out into the audience and did a double-take. There were only about 25 kids (it’s our smallest service by far), but I didn’t recognize ANY of the small group leaders. Well, I did recognize them, but not for that environment. Every small group leader in that room were middle school small group leaders.

After Large Group ended and the Middle School leaders began conversations with their groups, I learned what was happening. Every one of our Elementary small group leaders were out. Katie, my Elementary director was in a bind. Not only did she have vacancies, but she was hosting on the main stage as well making it more difficult to make everything happen. I’m not sure how it happened, but Calla, my student pastor’s wife took initiative and recruited a handful of 11:00 Middle School volunteers to stay for an extra service and lead small groups for kids at the 12:30 service. AMAZING!

Calla played the role of Small Groups Director and 3-4 incredible small group leaders used to dealing with Middle School drama dove into the world of comic books, cartoons, fart noises and silly jokes. I watched the room for several minutes and saw incredible small group leaders work their magic on their temporary groups. They were amazing. The kids were engaged and it looked like everyone was having fun and having meaningful conversations.

Here’s what yesterday’s experienced showed me:

  • When you build a Lead Small culture across all your family ministry environments, your volunteers are interchangeable. Not that you’d want to switch your people around all the time (preschool small groups are quite different from high school small groups), but a well trained small group leader can pull off a small group in any age if necessary.
  • When you build an integrated NextGen/Family Ministry team, you build a ministry where staff members and “departments” support each other. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had staff members stand in for each other in areas far outside their comfort zone.

As fun as seeing those Middle School volunteers serving in Elementary was, I wasn’t totally surprised. Of course my staff would work together to help each other out. Of course the Middle School small group leaders would engage their temporary groups well, they’re great small group leaders.

We’re working hard to build a NextGen team that creates incredible environments and experiences for each age group while developing a staff and volunteer team that values the ministry at large. How are you working to remove silos between various age groups? What’s working in your environments?