Does having kids= I can't volunteer in youth ministry anymore?

     When you stand in front of a loud, fun, busy, and overly sugared youth room, with a long line of energetic teenagers coming in and out, you get a lot of comments coming your way. Little words of encouragement or "Wow, I could never do that" from church friends strolling through the campus. One reoccurring theme I've noticed over the years, both in large and small churches alike, is a familiar phrase from young moms. I've heard it a lot. A noble, good, and decent thing to say. It goes something like this...

 " Oh wow that's so great you do youth ministry. I used to volunteer in youth ministry, back before kids. Maybe when my kids are older and get to Jr. High, I will help out in youth ministry again."

I smile and say "we would love to have you."  What I really want to share with these ladies, but never have time in those quick passing moments, is...
"It's so worth it. I have a baby in the nursery right now, and doing youth ministry can totally work in a mom's schedule, Our girls would be so blessed to have moms like you on our volunteer team."  
There are three thoughts I have for you to consider, before passing up the chance to serve on a youth ministry team.

First # 1 Your kids will get their own cheering section. 
The youth team, the teens in your church, and your super stoked youth worker are all going to love you and they are going to love your kids even more. My kids walk in the youth room, and they are offered high fives, hugs, colored food dye infested cupcakes, and more love and community than they may have ever experienced other wise. No, volunteering in youth min isn't for the solicitation of a fan club for your kids, but inevitably, the more of your life you share with the students in your church, the more invested these teens will be in the life of your family. Yesterday, I pulled a diaper out of the baby's diaper bag, and guess what? There were little love notes written in sharpie all over the baby diaper. Yup, a sweet teenager who volunteers a lot in the church nursery with my littlest one, bestowed sharpie love all over a size 4 Pampers. I can't tell you how many of our youth group kids over the years have taken time to volunteer in my kid's church classes, for the sole purpose of spending more time with my kids.  My kids have benefited so much. They have church "FAMILY" and it rocks.

Second #2 Pay it forward 
Your kids will grow up and some day be in the youth ministry. Pour into the teens in your church right now and make a difference. Like now. Why wait?   Demonstrate a life that cares about teens. Be what you hope other adults will step up to be for your own flesh and blood in their formative teen years.  Recent research from the Fuller Youth Institute confirms, for faith to last, students need several adults in their church family to come alongside and be a part of their lives in both little and big ways.  This doesn't mean you trade raising your toddler for the teens in your church community, but maybe put in an hour or two a week to show teens in your church family they matter. It can make a lasting impact for eternity. Being a mom doesn't change that, if anything, being a mom makes me care even more for the teens in my church. Sure, I was a fantastic youth leader pre-kids, but I have a whole new understandably different perspective with kids of my own. It's one of those things you can't understand until you are on the flip side. I do however, have a lot less time. So what I lacked in pre-kid youth ministry days, I made up for in loads more time for endless relational hours hanging out with teenagers.

Third #3 You have the time. 
We have time for what's important. If you love youth ministry, are great with teenagers, than I hope you don't give that up just because life got busy as a wife and mom. Maybe you can't put in 40 hours a week and sign up to lead an epic 3 day white water rafting trip, but whether you've got ten minutes a week, or ten hours, I bet there are plenty of youth min opportunities available to fit your schedule. When you are connected and invested into a faith community, you naturally want to serve in some capacity. Maybe it's kids ministry with your kiddos, maybe it's Awana, or Women's Ministry, but if youth ministry is your passion, if it's your gift, than by all means, keep at it. Using my gifts to serve the teens in our church, has only made me a better wife, a much more fun mom, and strengthened my faith in a multitude of ways.

So next time you pass by the youth room and utter the words "I used to help in youth ministry, until I had kids," be warned, I might stop you in your tracks and hand you a volunteer application.

 What do you tell busy moms who seem interested in helping out your youth ministry?


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