Experienced children’s ministry leaders all agree: developing leaders in your children’s ministry is an essential and continual process that will make your ministry thrive. There are several important steps that you must take in order to train leaders who will be successful and continue to grow as they lead in your children’s ministry and disciple children. By following these steps, you can reproduce yourself in others and maximize the potential of every leader that walks into your ministry.
Get To Know Potential Ministry Leaders
The first important training step is to get to know your potential leaders. Before you meet with them individually, ask them to fill out an application to serve in your ministry. This will reinforce the fact that they are signing up for a leadership role. On the application, ask for their skills and gifts, two references, their testimony, their current spiritual growth, and their areas of interest for serving. By asking for these things, you can learn more about them from their written answers than you would have if you had asked these same questions in person.
Next, sit down and talk to them. Ask intentional questions to get to know them. Ask about their life. After getting to know them on a personal level, share the vision, mission, and core beliefs of both your children’s ministry and church. Ask what their talents and areas of interest in the ministry are. By being intentional with your questions during this first meeting, you are setting a precedence that they will be a valued part of the children’s ministry team.
Introduce Leaders to Your Children’s Ministry
The second step in this training process is to help your leader get acquainted with the ministry. Show them around, let them talk to leaders and ask questions, share a history of the ministry, and give them a current ministry program schedule. Let them shadow a leader for a week or two so that they can get a full picture of the ministry. Giving them a chance to see everything will put their leadership role into perspective before they step into it.
Prepare and Invest in Your Children’s Ministry Leaders
The third step to developing leaders is to give them on-the-job training. Putting them in leadership roles and expecting them to lead well and grow in their skills is like explaining to a child how to ride a bike and then immediately sending them off and expecting everything to go smoothly. It rarely works. Training needs to happen before a leader starts their responsibilities, but it also needs to take place during their time on the ministry team.
The first time a volunteer teaches a Bible lesson is both a nerve-wrecking and exciting experience. Giving them a lesson plan template, helping them prepare their lesson, and checking in on them are each important parts of preparing a teenager to teach. Even after they have been teaching consistently in your children’s ministry, continue to give them feedback on their lessons. When we continue to train teenage leaders, we are investing in them and setting them up for both growth and success in their leadership role.
When giving your leaders on-the-job training, get practical and personal with them. Ask how they are doing. Observe them leading in their role. Encourage them with both compliments and constructive feedback. Whenever I need to give someone constructive feedback, I follow the “sandwich model.” I give positive feedback, share the constructive feedback (just one or two things), and then end with more positive feedback. It’s really simple: the sandwich tastes better as a whole than it does in its individual parts.
Give Your Leaders Room to Grow
Lastly, it is important to give your leaders opportunities to grow, with added responsibility if they continue to excel and are interested in getting more involved. Imagine having your new leader run an entire Sunday children’s service! It is totally possible if you invest in your leaders and build some of them up to the point that they can lead ministry teams. Giving your leaders added responsibility after they excel in their roles might help develop them into more mature leaders who can serve in even larger capacities.