How to Help Teenagers Serve Others

Start a Teens Mission Group

Many churches already involve their students in local missions work and short term missions trips, but I'm not aware of many churches who have a dedicated weekly meeting for teenagers interested in developing knowledge, skills and leadership in missions. That is what Acteens is all about.

Having worked with youth from Junior High through college age since 1976, and having 5 children myself (two teens), I have found this program to be the best youth group activity I've ever seen. Acteens teaches teenage girls in Junior High through High School (7th to 12th grade) about the needs of people around the world and gives them opportunities to be a part of local and international mission work. Although Acteens is only for girls, you could easily make this a co-ed group for any teenagers who want to get ready for a missions trip, or want to develop leadership skills in local missions work.

While this organization is a part of the Women's Missionary Union of the Southern Baptist churches and is directed only at girls, I don't think that the ideas of this program should be limited by denomination. Involving teenagers in Christian Mission Work in local missions can be done by any church or Christian organization. Acteens does not replace worship or Bible study; instead, it allows teens to act out what they learn and to help others in their own community.


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Acteens girls missions group, 2011-2012Being silly while packing medical supplies, books and clothes for 3rd World people.Big sister, little sister mentoring.Planting a garden.
Acteens girls missions group, 2011-2012
Acteens girls missions group, 2011-2012 | Source
Being silly while packing medical supplies, books and clothes for 3rd World people.
Being silly while packing medical supplies, books and clothes for 3rd World people. | Source
Big sister, little sister mentoring.
Big sister, little sister mentoring. | Source
Planting a garden.
Planting a garden. | Source

How to Start a Group

Develop a Leadership Team: One or more adults will need to lead the mission work group. We currently have 3 adults and 2 college students leading about 35 7th to 12th grade girls. Because an important part of helping teenagers learn to do missions work is giving them the opportunity to be leaders, we also have about 8 high school girls who form the student leadership team. These girls are responsible for many of the activities we do, as well as for encouraging the younger girls, praying with them, and being a good example and sister in Christ.

Set up a Weekly Meeting Time: We meet weekly on Sundays 5-7 p.m. during the school year. Our teenagers are also involved in Bible Study on Sunday mornings, discipleship groups later on Sunday nights, and worship/Bible study on Wednesdays. Because we have Bible Study at other times, our Acteens group does not include Bible Study but yours could do so if you want to include local missions work within your normal schedule.

Set Schedule for Missions Education, Team Building and Local Missions Work: Developing leadership means that you need all three of these components. Each week at Acteens we are focusing on one or two of the following:

  1. Learning about missions work.
  2. Learning about the needs of people around the world.
  3. Learning about the culture, language and missions work in other countries.
  4. Getting to know one another and our own talents, strengths, gifts and abilities.
  5. Building up our team and learning how to work together on a project.
  6. Making something for missionaries or people in need.
  7. Doing a missions project off-site.
  8. Going to a local mission in our area to learn and to help.

Develop Contacts: In order to involve teenagers in missions work, the leaders are going to need to have help. Luckily, many local missions organizations love to have a chance to teach teens about what they do. Most of the time, when we call up and ask if we can visit, have someone come share, or have a project to do, people are more than willing to talk with us. How to find contacts?

  1. Ask church leadership for organizations your church is already involved with.
  2. Ask youth group parents if they have any volunteering work they do they would be willing to talk about.
  3. Contact any missionaries associated with your church or organization and see if they will come talk or send you a video or other information.
  4. Check out the websites for large Christian organizations like Compassion, Wyclife or other missions organizations for information, lessons, videos or even speakers who might come to talk with your group.
  5. Contact the local Christian bookstore to see if they know of any organizations you can speak with.
  6. Look in the yellow pages of the phone book under "Christian organizations" to find out other contacts. You can also look up local branches of groups like Salvation Army, Goodwill or your local food pantry. When I started researching local non-profit charities in our area, I was absolutely astounded at how many there were. Moreover, almost all of them need volunteer help.
  7. Start asking people you know in your Sunday School class, Bible study or even at work if they know of any group who needs volunteer help.
  8. Look in the local newspaper and magazines for organizations or events your teens could help with. For example, our food pantry has a Thanksgiving feast each year. That sort of event often needs help and your teens could be an important part.
  9. Start looking for things that need doing around town. For example, I started noticing that our local playground is often full of trash. An easy and fun job for teens is a "trash and treasure" pick up which sets the teens up in pairs and gives them a short amount of time to pick up trash in an area. You can even have prizes for the most creative trash, the most smelly trash, the most "interesting" trash, the best treasure etc.
  10. Think about what jobs in your church teens could do. We have several events which are regularly staffed by our Acteens teen workers. They help with the Fall Festival, Vacation Bible School, our Back-to-School dinner, our Global Missions Celebration and many other events. In fact, because our teens are so well trained and responsible, we often even call them during the summer to come and help out.
  11. Ask other Churches if you can help. Our Acteens have been a vital part of helping our two church plants get their buildings ready. They have painted, cleaned and organized. We've also helped out with mission projects with other churches. This can be a great way for your teens to see that missions work is something the body of Christ does all together.

Develop Leadership Skills

Leading singing at VBS in boys and girls club.
Leading singing at VBS in boys and girls club. | Source

Why You Should

What is best about involving your teens in missions work? They learn they can do it and that missions work is fun. My four daughters have all been a part of the program and I've enjoyed working along side of them as we serve others. My oldest daughter is now in college and has strong leadership skills that she developed while being a part of this program. In fact, she has used the skills she learned to work in a Chinese orphanage, travel overseas, and get a job working in a children's museum.

Do you have some missions work for teenagers that your group has done? I'd love to have you share your ideas with everyone in the comments!

Picking up glass on playground.
Picking up glass on playground. | Source

More by this Author


Comments 10 comments

MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean

Acteens is right on! Such a positive, productive, service organization. Thanks for sharing. Love the video and the music. Awesome!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon

What a cool hub and video--love the music too~ My daughter who's now in her 30s just got back from a mission this summer and she and her hubby found it hard to leave. It's a great experience for anyone. I only wish I could go and take my mals! One of these days maybe!!! She said the kids at the orphanages were so adorable and so caring. I admire young people who do this as it's such a gift for someone less fortunate.


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Thanks so much for sharing Eiddwen!


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Thanks rfmoran-you are so right that we need to give kids a cause to believe in


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

Such a wise and wonderful hub which I share onto my FB page.

Eddy.


rfmoran profile image

rfmoran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

Give kids a cause larger tan them and they will be transformed. Great hub, voted up and awesome


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Tina--I'm so glad to hear a "grown up" story of someone who was in Acteens. Our church has AWANA clubs and RAs and GAs. They are both wonderful organizations to teach kids about God and about how to be leaders in their church and community to reach out to others to show them God's love.


Tina Truelove 4 years ago

I grew up in Acteens! What a wonderful organization. Royal Ambassadors was the "guy version" of Acteeens . . . back in the 70s and 80s, at least. We still attend a southern baptist church but we don't have Acteens or Royal Ambassadors. I think the AWANA clubs have the next generations attention around here, but they are great too. You listed a lot of good sources for mission opportunities within local communities. Great Hub!


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

You are so right billybuc--I was just telling my son today as he was talking about the upcoming election that I was so pleased he and his friends are thinking about issues and involved in volunteering because they will be in charge someday soon--and that time isn't as far away as it seems right now!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Great suggestion and a wonderful organization. When I was teaching I was always so pleased to see how the young people truly wanted to help others. As long as that is true there is hope!

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