We all know we should “equip” volunteers. But that’s not enough. We also need to “develop” leaders. There’s a difference.
Unfortunately, developing leaders does not bring quick results. It takes months, at best, and usually years, before we really see a difference. The difference, however, can be transformational – not only in the life of the leader, but also in the life of our ministry. When we develop leaders, they become far more capable in what they can accomplish, and so does our ministry.
The time factor is one reason why many don’t focus on developing leaders. But I often hear thatwe just don’t really know how to go about doing it. We know how to train (equip) someone to lead a child to Christ, but we don’t know how to develop someone for the rather ambiguous area of leadership.
We’ll share more about what leadership development is and isn’t later, but right now, here are 5 ways to get started:
1. Intentional conversations
Yep, coaching. Simply being intentional with someone about what we talk about and steering that conversation toward leadership topics can go a long way. Ask questions to make them think. Let them formulate their ideas about something instead of just telling them how it is. Help them clarify their thoughts and beliefs by sharing your own experiences. And be intentional about shaping the conversation.
2. Resource studies
You might go through a book with someone, or talk through a magazine article, or listen to a podcast together. There are many, many great resources available which provide instant content for you to discuss. Take advantage of them. (You can find a bunch of Children’s & Family Ministry resources right here).
3. Share a conference
Attend together, discuss what’s being learned, allow for deeper relationship – share a conference together! This can be a national conference, a local conference, a network meeting or even a workshop offered in your own church. And remember, it doesn’t have to be related to children’s ministry.
If you are looking for some great conferences, here are just a few that I would recommend:
- The Gathering
- Lifeway Kids Ministry Conference
- Group’s KidMin Conference
- D6 Conference
- Live To Serve
- Children’s Pastors Conference
- Orange Conference
4. Project assignments
The best way to develop leaders is to not only talk about leadership, but actually put it into practice. So, as you continue to have conversations, give project assignments to your up and coming leader and let them “practice” leadership under your direction. It can be something small, but after you’ve given the instructions, let them own it. That means let them fail, let them do it the way they would do it, let them bring their own ideas to the project, etc.
Everything listed above (and more) are part of an apprenticeship. And apprenticeship, in my opinion, is probably the ideal form of leadership development. An apprentice is literally someone committed to someone else for the purpose of observing and learning something specific from that person. In this case, a ministry apprentice will not only be equipped for ministry, but also developed as a leaders. You allow this person to walk with you in the leadership journey, observing and experiencing how you make decisions, how you communicate, how you handle issues, solve problems, and more.