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Thoughts on Youth Worker Training

By Doug Franklin August 30, 2010

Over the weekend I had the opportunity of going to a youth worker training at a friend’s church. I like going to other company trainings for two reasons: 1. because I volunteer in a youth group and can never have too much training, and 2. because I like to see how other companies are doing it. The training was supposed to be from 8:30-12:30, but we didn’t really get started until about 9:15 because us youth workers like to show up late. The training focused on three individual topics: small groups, evangelism, and mentoring. All great things to talk about, but it was a lot to fit into three hours (when you added in the breaks, each session was between 45-55 minutes). By the time we finished I was tired and had a lot of material to look over, but it got me thinking about training in general. So here are my few observations for youth worker training, in no specific order:

1. Balance content and experience

Too often we make the mistake of trying to cram a TON of content into our trainings (that’s what happened this past weekend) and we simply overwhelm those we are training. For some reason we think the real value is solely in the content, but that’s just not true. With the variety of learning modes out there, we need to present content in multiple formats (auditory, visual, and experiential) or we will lose many we are trying to train. Plus, just like when planning sermons, people only retain a small amount of the information they hear anyways, so why not get creative and develop new, innovative ways of delivering your content so they internalize it. Less is more my boss always says.

2. Allow time to process and share

Speaking of internalizing, there was almost no time this past weekend for us to think through what we were receiving for training. There was only one pair and share, but only for five minutes (we needed way more for the subject matter). We also needed just time to internalize what we were learning and how to apply it for our own groups, or at least more discussion with others to help us apply the training.

3. Question asking is key

Even though the trainer told us all at the beginning he welcomed questions, not once did he ask us if we had any questions. I had to interrupt him a couple times to ask a question. People need to be invited to ask questions, for they won’t all interrupt to do it. And especially if we are teaching a complex subject. Plus, as trainers, we also have to ask the participants questions. The trainer this weekend didn’t ask us any questions about our own ministries, which could have been so helpful for applying the training.

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