My first church leadership position was as a student crew leader at a VBS a small church in Northern California nearly 15 years ago. You might not think of a student crew leader at a VBS as someone on your church leadership team, but that church did. I still remember hearing the pastor tell us that we were on the church staff for the week of VBS and that we needed to live into that reality.
It was a HUGE responsibility… and, looking back, it was my first step toward a career in vocational ministry.
I think of that summer every time that I look at pictures like the ones above. You see, each year I give that same talk to our group of student leaders at VBS. And, each year, that group grows.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
This last July, I sat in a room with 300 student leaders, preparing them for their 2 week commitment to VBS at Glenkirk. For many, it was their first time attending our week-long training session for Student VBS leaders. Many had once been children jumping on the pews during opening VBS worship, some were simply youth in our community looking to make a difference in the world around them – all of them were joining the ranks of our church staff for the better part of a month. They were given the chance to live up to great expectations and to share God’s love with the kids who would be entrusted to their care.
As I watch many of them taking on greater leadership roles in the church (we have students serving on worship teams, leading kids’ ministry, on our church’s finance committee, leading mission trips and serving in countless other areas), I can’t help but dream about the next generation of leaders that God is raising up in our midst.
This past weekend, students who were once just VBS counselors were leading our church’s largest kids’ ministry service while I spoke in a different location on campus. Without a single paid staff person around, that service had one of its highest attended Sundays in its history… and it didn’t miss a beat. When we look to duplicate ourselves in ministry, I think the wise investment is often found when we pour our lives and energy into equipping our youth with the tools and knowledge it takes to make ministry happen.