So, this week we’ve chatted about a number of volunteer topics:
- Assessing our volunteer culture
- Recruiting new volunteers through expos and cold calls
- Providing an orientation process for new volunteers
- Training volunteers
Now it’s time to examine the leadership structure within a ministry.
WHY HAVE LEADERS?
You cannot do this job alone. Why? Because you are limited. You have weaknesses. If you don’t believe me ask your spouse…or your teenager.
With a team of leaders you have a team of increased time to pour in the ministry. You have more hands and feet to do the work. And you have the collective strengths and talents of many people.
You will be more effective if you develop leaders.
THE PATH TO LEADERSHIP
Here are a few things to consider:
1. Rome was not built in a day.
2. God rewards those who are faithful with a little with more responsibilities.
Why are these two points important? Continue reading.
Sit down with a piece of paper or a whiteboard and map out your dream structure for your children’s ministry. What is your vision? What are your steps to accomplish that vision? What people do you need to make that vision happen? If you had an endless supply of amazing volunteers, what roles would you put in place to bring about your vision?
Draw nice little organizational charts of your dream structure. Type up job descriptions for your dream roles.
(NOTE: If you have no idea what I just said, ask around and find a project-planner type to sit down with you. Or call me! I love project plans! I get excited about them like some people get excited about candy or Christmas.)
Now…remember points 1 and 2 from above?
Your dream will not happen today. It probably won’t happen tomorrow either. So pull out your calendar and map out a time line of when you’d like to bring it about. Create steps to your big goal.
Assess your current people. Who is dependable? Who has talents that fit some of your dream roles? Watch your volunteers and pray for guidance. Then personally invite the volunteers you think you can see as leaders to step up their commitment. Give them specific new responsibilities. Over time as they are dependable in those roles, add more responsibilities.
ADMINISTRATORS VS. LEADERS?
Children’s ministry is made of two things – tasks and people.
There are Mary’s in this world. They love people. They love to sit around with people – listening, conversing and interacting.
Then there are Martha’s in this world. (As a sidenote I do think Martha is misunderstood. If Jesus was coming to my house, I’d want to make a little lunch for him. Wouldn’t you?) These people make lunch. They get jobs done, sometimes forgetting people along the way.
I think sometimes in children’s ministry we get distracted by our tasks. These tasks can be curriculum, theology, out-of-control storage closets, ratios, etc. We raise people up to accomplish the tasks.
But we forget our most important resource – people!
Training people to lead people is much harder than training people to accomplish tasks. Why? Because people have feelings.
So in your dream organizational chart, don’t forget to include both administrators of tasks and leaders of people.
WHAT ARE THE QUALITIES OF LEADERS?
I once created a leadership scale. I picked some qualities that mattered to me in my leaders and a created a scale of 1 through 5, 5 being the best.
Here are some of the qualities that mattered to me in leaders:
- Kindness Toward Others (To their face and behind their back)
- Ability to Navigate Conflicts Graciously and Honestly
As I watched my volunteers and spent time with them, I would mentally make notes of where they were in these qualities. I also would spend hours each week talking with volunteers through email, phone calls, lunches, etc. As I got to know them better I would make notes of their experiences and talents.
Then one-by-one I would start matching volunteers with leadership roles. I would meet with them and personally invite them to increase their time investment in the ministry.
Gateway Community Church has a next step for aspiring leaders – a leadership interview. It was one of the more grueling interviews I’ve ever had. It blew any job interview I’ve ever had out of the water. In the interview process, we chatted about my beliefs, my behaviors, how I’ve handled various tricky situations, and my current struggles that might embarrass our church. Wow!
I’d recommend this step for your leaders. The Bible says that we are like precious metals tested by fire. Turn up the heat on your volunteers a little. See what they’re made of. The quality ones will walk through the fire and your ministry will be stronger for it.
A coworker at my last church gave me some advice on training leaders. I know this advice was not from his own head, but with my apologies to the original author, the source has been lost in translation.
He suggested these steps for leaders:
1. Tell them what to do
2. Show them what to do
3. Do it together
4. Watch them do it
This is a great way to transition your leaders into their new roles. If you’re a control-freak like me, it also gives you a chance to trust your ministry baby to another leader.
ONGOING DIALOG WITH LEADERS
Again, with my apologies to the original source (if it’s you, please credit yourself here!), Kenny once heard that people will not just do what we expect, they will do what we inspect. So once you have leaders in place, set up a review process. Be a part of their ministry from time to time. Have debriefing sessions to chat about their course. Give them a forum to seek your advice and guidance.
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