Creating a Game Plan for Developing Leaders.
Rarely do we find volunteer leaders that are experts in the ministry areas where they serve. So, why is it then that we often expect them just to “catch on” as they go? There is certainly plenty to be learned from experience, but intentional coaching and training can help leaders avoid frustration and be lead with confidence.
Spring Training. A good football team spends time training and preparing for the season. Likewise, if we are to have the best volunteer leaders, there are some things we can do to prepare them for ministry to collegiates. Unless they work in a field where they encounter college students on a regular basis, most adults know little about this collegiate generation. You may want to give them a book or a selection of readings that will help them understand the students they will be working with like, Generation iY by Tim Elmore, College Ministry in a PostChristian Culture by Stephen Lutz, You Lost Me by David Kinnaman, or selections from the Millenials studies at Barna.org. Have discussions about these resources that promote understanding and creativity in ministry.
Help leaders develop the skills they will need to work with students. Provide training, or seek out conferences and training events for your leaders that will help them develop these skills. Austin Wadlow, University Pastor at First Baptist Church, Denton shares, “the training we have done has been about once a month with a big kickoff training session and then a big celebratory session at the end of the year.” Find opportunities that work for your team of leaders. If they are too busy to attend out of town events, send a representative that will come back and report on what they learned.
Coaching from the Sideline. Some of the best training comes in the midst of ministry. Be intentional about spending time with your leaders during the year. Bobby Smith at First Baptist Church, Nacogdoches says that he and his wife Laura, “try to pour into their lives and let them in turn pour into college students lives.” You might ask your leaders about their experiences and what they are learning from being a part of the college ministry. What are their greatest challenges? What do they do well? Where do they think they could use help?
Open lines of communication with leaders can help them avoid the frustration of feeling like they have to figure it all out on their own, or that they are supposed to know it all. The reality is that even the most seasoned college ministers don’t know it all. Encourage them along the way. Praise their strengths and support them in their weaknesses. Help them to keep their focus on the larger goal of discipling students.
Post Game Evaluation. Is there a time during your year that you pause to evaluate your ministry? If not, create one. Find a time in the year where the ministry schedule slows pace and build in a time for evaluation with your leaders. Ask good questions about the year’s ministry. What did we do well? What were our weaknesses? How well did we do at communicating as a team? Be sure volunteer leaders have the opportunity to express their needs and thoughts.
Celebrate. Most importantly, be sure that your leaders know how much you appreciate them. Thank them regularly for their investment of time and energy to the ministry. Encourage them, and pray for them. Then let them know that you are praying for them. Be sure to celebrate together what God is doing in the lives of the students that you lead.