As the Children’s Ministry Director, I was stuck. Ugh! I needed four more volunteers to join our Sunday production team. And by team, I am really referring to the only two guys on that team, Joel and Blaine. They were my middle school technical superheroes; unstoppable when it came to sound and lights. They loved figuring things out – what they didn’t know, they googled for the answer. But our programs were growing, and we needed more help on Sundays.
More out of frustration than strategy, I asked Joel and Blaine if they knew anyone I could ask to join their team. That’s when Joel said, “Mrs Miller, I’m thinking of asking my dad to come and help me. He likes some of the same things I do. Would that be ok?"
"Your dad? Serving with you?" I thought.
Not to be outdone, Blaine jumped in adding that he too could ask his dad to do production with him. They did a lot of projects together at home, and worked together well. I told them there was free pizza in it for both of them if they were successful recruiters. I figured food was their language of love because, well, they were middle school boys.
That night Joel and Blaine both contacted me -- their dads were a yes! Unbelievable -- we had doubled the size of our production team in just one night! Not only were these two guys good at technical stuff, they were also good recruiters as well.
After six months of watching these dads and sons serve together, I sat down over a couple of extra cheese pizzas with everything and a side of crazy bread to capture their feedback. I asked them whether they would recommend parents and their kids serving together.
Did the boys really like hanging out with their dads, or did it cramp their style?
Were their power struggles between them when making decisions?
Were the dads enjoying it as well or wishing they had chosen differently?
Here are the four top reasons why they felt like serving together was a total win:
1. They loved doing something significant together.
Yeah, set up and tear down each week could be a grind, but watching the Bible story come to life on the stage made it feel important to them. They knew that what they were doing with props and sound effects kept the listeners engaged all the way through, and these four wanted to get every cue right.
One of the dads admitted that he had not grown up in a church, so these stories were all new to him. He was learning tons of new stuff while he was serving, content that he probably would not have gotten elsewhere.
2. It was fun
These four had private jokes from weekend pranks they had pulled on each other that made us all belly laugh. They had crazy stories of times they had messed things up or when cues had gone haywire during the large group production.
One of the dads said that he just loved doing this with his son. Anytime they were able to do things together, he felt like it was so fun during the middle school years. They were making memories together, during a season of life that can sometimes be difficult to navigate.
3. It gave them a common language
Sometimes it's difficult to know exactly how to talk about faith questions with your son (or daughter). But serving together had given them some common language each week. They had verses from the Bible that they could discuss and apply at home. They both had heard the same bottom line and could talk about their doubts, fears and struggles with it while riding home in the car. Serving together gave them some content that opened the door for some offline organic faith conversations outside of church.
4. They built community with other volunteers
One of the things that we talk about in "Not Normal" is how important it is to build community with other volunteers who you serve alongside. Blaine and Joel (and their dads) consistently talked about how much they enjoyed the "Huddle" time before service. They were aware of how much these people cared for and served each other before the kids came each week. They were included and welcome in that circle – hearing from them what a great job they were doing during large group programming. These people were supportive and encouraging, which meant the world to all four of them.
With this kind of feedback, our team started rethinking our roles each week. We looked for the best places to open up spaces for parents and their kids to serve together, and then we watched God open up doors to bring us the right people. This was a gamechanger for us as a ministry, and for so many of the families that served together over the years.
And to think it all started with two middle school guys. Joel and Blaine – you two are still my heroes.