Involving Teenagers as Leaders in VBS

20140114-075705.jpgMy first VBS "worker" assignment was at the ripe old age of 12. My aunt was the teacher of the five-year-old class and she desperately needed a helper. We conducted VBS in the morning, ate a sandwich, and then spent the afternoon getting ready for the next day. We had 10 kids in an 80-square-foot room. For me the week was a huge lesson in flexibility!

While using teenagers - or in my case a pre-teenager - is not ideal for multiple reasons, mature teenagers can be the solution to a worker shortage, plus the week is an excellent opportunity for teens to begin serving and exploring their gifts and interest. Following are six tips to involving teenagers as leaders in VBS .


1. Training is of utmost importance. Failure to train results in frustration for teenagers and adult workers alike.

2. Training begins with the enlistment process. Establish expectations and accountability early and clearly.

3. Make sure teens are looked upon as full members of the team. If teens are mature enough to be enlisted for the team they are mature enough to be treated and respected as a member of the team.

4. Teens are more likely to become discipline problems when they are not given meaningful ministry tasks and the opportunity to contribute to the team.

5. Adult members of the team should assume a mentoring mentality as they work along side the teen leader, respecting the teen's ability to make decisions with some guidance.

6. Give teens opportunities to grow and stretch in their abilities. With a little discretion on the adult leader's part, teens should be allowed to experience what are sometimes seen as "adult" roles.

Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, serves on LifeWay's VBS Team as a Ministry Specialist responsible for training and events.


  1. Beth says

    Teens as VBS leaders has been our practice for the last 5 years. We have seen such growth in their leadership abilities. The kids that come to our program just love having the BIG kids be in charge. Our team of 10- 14 teens run all aspect of the day and we have adult leaders assigned to guide the age groups (just in case adult back up is needed). It is an awesome experience!

  2. amy says

    I taught my first VBS class on my own as a 17-year old. The church I serve at now utilizes our teens every year. Most have grown up in the church and know our expectations. Our adult leaders are very good at mentoring them. It's a blessing to see the teens that I had as assistants are now teaching the classes. My sons are now the helpers and they love it.

  3. Amy says

    Last year our youth choir helped in all areas of our VBS then took it on the road and led VBS at a small church that couldn't get enough volunteers to do it themselves. It was a wonderful experience for all. We are doing it again next year. At our VBS we have teens in all areas, and my just-graduated daughter taught kindergarten. She had a great adult role mentor, but she planned and executed the plan.

  4. maya says

    I am 13 years old and I am a leader at VBS I love it. It is fun connecting with the younger kids, it is also a fun way to teach them about God with the activity we do and the games we play and we even add a little bit of theater in there. It also shows them how important God is to them and other people.

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