Train leaders together

Tomorrow night, my adult leaders for the coming programming year will meet together for the first time.

My leaders won't be the only one's attending this gathering.

Instead, our confirmation (junior high) leaders will join us as well.

For years, we trained these leaders separately. Until, that is, we realized that we, like many mainline congregations, had a transition problem. Families regularly viewed confirmation as their student's graduation from church (and their faith).

As a result, once it ended, students (and their families) regularly disappeared.

To combat this, we made a number of changes, including how we train our leaders. Now, rather than train our leaders separately, we train them together. We do so for several reasons.

1. Topically, there's a lot of overlap between what high school and junior high adult leaders need to learn in order to do effective ministry. These topics include (but aren't limited to) how to lead a small group, boundaries and safe child policies, youth culture, Bible, adolescent development, and vision casting for your ministry.

2. Training leaders together removes the individual ministry silos that we in the church tend to live in. It gives leaders the opportunity to learn about and better understand other ministries in your congregation. It gives them a wider view and broader understanding of your church's vision for youth ministry. In so doing, it gives them a greater awareness of all that your congregation offers to it's youth.

3. It creates relationships between people serving in different, but related, ministries. This, in and of itself, helps bridge the gap between junior high and high school ministries.

4. When ministry silos are destroyed and relationships formed in their place, leaders become much more willing (and able) to encourage people to participate in one another's ministries. Leaders then sometimes recruit other leaders. Moreover, it becomes possible for junior high leaders to authentically encourage their students to continue participating in your high school ministry. After all, they know those leaders and understand your high school ministry. Rather than see it as a separate, isolated entity, they view it as the next step in a student's faith journey.

Believe me, it's not always easy to train leaders from two different ministries together. But every time I question that decision, I return to this list of why we do it.

When I do that, it's easy to see that while it may not be easy, training leaders together is certainly worthwhile.

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

More about Jen

Jen's Books

Now Available!

A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Now Available!

Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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