Screen shot 2010-02-16 at 12.33.48 PM

As children’s pastors, we all want ’em. We’ve all got ’em. We’ve all been frustrated with ’em. Often times, we really don’t now what to do with them.

Here are the various types of teens I’ve had help in my children’s ministries. Perhaps you can identify.

The All-Star: This teenager is a rock star. They’re super involved. They’re committed as much if not more than your very best adult volunteer. They’re awesome at what they do and the kids LOVE them. When you look at them, you see “future children’s pastor written all over them.” You wish you had 20 more of them.

The Fixture: This is the teenager who’s excited about serving, even if they don’t show it. However, they’re often not a lot of help. This is the teenager that misses your presentation slides because he’s busy checking his facebook in the tech booth or the teen who’s texting in the toddler room while little Jonny’s got Lucy in a piranha bite to the arm. We like them because they’re better than nothing, but sometimes we wonder if they’re more work than they’re worth.

The MIA: This is the teenager who volunteers to serve in your ministry but never shows up when you need him or her. This teenager may quit without any reason and good luck ever getting a hold of him or her. This teens is notoriously unreliable and we get so frustrated with ourselves when we’ve become dependent on them. Our schedule may show that we’ve got enough workers in every room, but half of them are MIA Teens, so we know that it’s a crap shoot. The MIA may have All-Star or Fixture qualities, but the thing that defines them is their unreliability.

Would you agree that this is a pretty good assessment of your teenagers? Here’s how these teens have broken down in my experience. All-Stars are like diamonds. You love them dearly. They’re valuable. However, they’re pretty rare. Usually you’ll be pretty lucky to find more than a handful. Fixtures and MIAs are a dime a dozen. They’re everywhere and they’re really not hard to find. Sometimes you tend to have more Fixtures than MIAs and at other times it’t the other way around. Based on my experience though, I’ve seen the fixtures gravitate toward elementary and the MIAs populate early childhood. Why? Often times elementary is less work intensive. There’s the possibility that they’ll get to hang out in the tech booth and goof off for a service. They come every week because they like it, but they’re not necessarily that helpful. The MIAs tend to gravitate toward Early Childhood. I’m not exactly sure why, but all I know is that my Early Childhood directors have often been so frustrated by them.

Tomorrow let’s look into what might really be the problem and see if we can work out some kind of solution.