by Jennifer McMillian

Congratulations! You’ve recruited some new volunteers that you are really excited about. They understand the importance of relational ministry and seem eager to invest in the lives of students. But now what? How do you actually equip them for the task ahead?

Initial Training:
Whether you launch a group of new leaders all at once or introduce them to students one at a time throughout the year, make sure that before they ever stand in front of a group of students, you have done everything in your power to set them up for success. Ask yourself the question, “If I’d never served in this ministry before, what would I need to know right out of the gate?” and then have some type of training to address that question.

In our student ministry, we launch a group of new leaders every year in early June when we promote our students. So, we always do a New Leader Training right before their first Sunday. In this training, we focus on two main things: 1) What do you need to do on the very first Sunday you meet your students? And; 2) What should you do this summer to build momentum? Obviously, you should answer these questions in light of what makes most sense in your ministry but here is what makes sense in our context.

1) What do you need to do on the very first Sunday you meet your students?

  • Create a welcoming environment
  • Meet their parents
  • Email the whole group so they have your contact information
  • Et cetera

2) What should you do this summer to build momentum?

  • Get to know your co-leader and intentionally discuss how to best lead your group.
  • Plan at least one outing with your group outside of church.
  • Find out how your students communicate—texting, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
  • Encourage them all to sign up for the 6th grade retreat at the end of the summer.

Are there other things that new leaders need to know? Of course! But their felt need in that moment is to feel equipped to jump in and lead their students right off the bat! I’m sure you’ve recruited fantastic people but don’t assume that your new leaders intuitively know what to do when it comes to leading students. Give them practical, tangible steps to get them started. Once you’ve done this initial training, you have time to develop your strategy for how to continue developing your leaders in the months ahead.

Jennifer serves as the Transit female group director at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. She has spent six years on the North Point Ministries team. Before coming to North Point, she served as the youth pastor for First Colony Church in Houston, Texas, working with middle and high school students. Today, Jennifer helps create exciting and safe environments for middle school students to develop a faith of their own. She is passionate about building relationships with Small Group Leaders. Jennifer married David in September of 2012 and is enjoying the life of a newlywed!

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