student ministry, youth worker, youth ministry

Challenging Adult Volunteers to Lead

By Doug Franklin February 4, 2013

I like to post about developing student leaders because I love the process of seeing them grow. I love it when the light bulb goes on for them and they understand how they can impact people. Just as important as growing student leaders is growing our adult volunteers as leaders. A big obstacle to developing adults as leaders is we don’t give them a vision for leadership. When an adult comes into our ministry and only sees their role of small group leader, they come to believe it’s the only role for them. At the same time we wish we had adult volunteers taking more leadership in our ministries. We must begin to give them a picture of how they can grow in our youth ministries.

Some Action Steps:

1. Create a leadership ladder
Every organization needs a leadership ladder. A leadership ladder is a step-by-step growth plan to help each person know what is their next leadership step in the organization. This is to ensure people don’t think they can stay in the same spot forever. For example: if you attend a small group your next step would be to apprentice in the small group and the next step after that would be becoming a small group leader. After that, you would move into being a small group coach where you oversee five small groups. You get the idea. The ladder is to remind us that we are never finished growing. If we complete all the steps, we then take someone else through the steps over and over again.

2. Driving vision
A popular vision statement churches are using today is, “Loving God, Loving People.” That’s good and I know the verses in the Bible it comes from, but my problem with this statement is it’s lack of motion. I can love God and love people without taking any steps forward and without taking any leadership positions in my church. Now, I know many of you might disagree, but from the number of people involved at our churches it looks like it’s not pushing people to action.  It’s my personal opinion that a church’s vision should call people to action and change.  Once you have a driving vision repeat it at least 10 times per week for 5 years and then your people will start to get it. You might be thinking this doesn’t sound like a solution but it is; it just takes discipline and tenacity. Churches that do this reap an unbelievable benefit. I’ve been at a church that did this and it grew like crazy. I also observed it when it stopped and people quickly left.

3. Delegate leadership
In many of the new style churches that have entrepreneurial pastors and small elder boards, most of the leadership is filled by staff members just leading small groups for other folks. Now leading a small group is important but for some of us with leadership ability we want more or something different and there is nothing left. So we sit in church thinking there is nothing that catches my attention or interests.  Churches that want to develop leaders will create space for them and opportunities for the gifts to be used.  But if power is consolidated in order to keep control, then leaders will stay home.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More