Emma Bacon

Which is better: Youth or Children’s work?

Youth, Children's and Families Workers. Many have asked me, ‘Which is better, Youth or Children’s work?’ From the point of studying Children and family work alongside youth workers to the point now where I am leading both age groups, I have found that for me there is no preference. Each ministry is different; each comes with its own set of challenges but also incredible moments of God’s goodness! In my experience, both ministries complement each other quite nicely.

When I first started leading the children’s ministry I would say to myself ‘I will never lead the youth work’. The young people seemed challenging and quick to give backchat to the leaders, sharing their opinions in what seemed a disrespectful manner…. And I may have been one of them. The moment I realised that I was called to lead the youth work, on top of what I was already doing, was when I started mentoring some of the younger teens that had been through the kids club.

Not only was I able to help guide them in their personal lives but I was also able to give the opportunity to develop new skills and focus on something positive by leading them to volunteer in the kids club. To be able to witness, and be part of the journey a child goes on from a young age all the way into adulthood is something that I value and treasure.

With everything, there are possible benefits and challenges. Whether you’re leading just one or both ministries I hope this is helpful for you. I encourage youth and children’s workers to take the time to meet together, work closely, help with transitions, share stories and share teaching plans. Do what you can to blend two ministries that sometimes seem divided, into one.

Possible benefits

Easier transition

Moving up from one age group to the other can seem quite daunting for some, and I know that some children and young people get lost along the way through the transition. But having that one person who is there throughout it all seems to make it easier. In today’s culture, I have also found that depending on different circumstances some children mature quicker than others and want to move up earlier. Sometimes there is a need to adapt different programmes to meet the needs of youth and children. Find whatever works for your church but also work closely with other leaders in the church to decide the best journey for each child.

Witness the journey

Witnessing a child’s journey with God is an amazing thing. In some circumstances, greater trust and stronger relationships are formed when both the children’s and youth ministry overlap slightly. Having a team of volunteers that serve in both ministries and having a varied rota is something that works well for us.

Developing young leaders

We all want to see a generation of young leaders raised up. Sometimes children don’t want to leave the kids group and move up so this gives the opportunity to allow them to volunteer and help lead the younger ones. Maybe you and your team could develop a training programme to develop new skills, build self-esteem and confidence and raise them up!

Possible challenges

More focus to one than the other

Don’t worry! ‘To everything there is a season,’ sometimes more focus and energy needs to go into one ministry. Our passion and vision can be stronger for one thing over the other. It’s ok! We have to trust that in that season the second ministry will be ok. It will keep going, you may not see as much growth during that time but you will in the ministry your focus is on. Keep the fire going, it will always flip back the other way.

Extra busy

We need to remember to look after ourselves, look after our time management, and look after our focus. Some suggestions to keep things simple:

  1. Maybe give one day in your diary to each ministry.
  2. Blend the teaching and programming, teach the same thing in both groups but adapt and change it slightly to meet the age.
  3. Bring two team meetings together on the same night. This is not only beneficial to your time but also those who volunteer for both groups.

Things get left behind

Sometimes things get left behind, these are generally the really important admin things that we all try and get away with. (I know I’m not the only one) While we try and get everything done it’s important not to burn ourselves out. Try and look for somebody to help. But also prioritise the right things and let go of the little things that don’t matter.

You are all doing a great job! Keep it up!

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