The bible records many examples of mature leaders mentoring proteges for ministry. Need a few reminders? Here is a sampling. Moses mentored Joshua. Eli mentored Samuel. Elijah mentored Elisha. Paul mentored Timothy and Titus. Jesus had the Twelve. The notion of intentionally training others up to equip them for effective ministry is biblical and wise—and it’s something that many in Kids Ministry are not doing as well as we should. This is of particular importance for those leaders who have served in kids ministry for several (or many) years. Wise leaders do more than merely recruit new volunteers. They seek out younger persons who are capable, qualified, and committed and take them under their wing to give them guidance that sets them up for success. Mentoring is about what you do with your young leaders after you have identified them.
- Effective mentorship is personal. I love how Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 CSB, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” In order to imitate Paul one would have to know him well enough to understand his motivations and witness his ministry firsthand. You’ve heard the saying, “people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” This is particularly true in ministry. Avoid ‘mentoring’ large numbers of people through big batch processes. You can go deep when you keep it personal.
- Effective mentorship is a partnership. There is an intentional coming alongside another person, not just for a moment in time, but to invest in them over the long haul. The Greek word paráklētos or paraclete is used to describe the Holy Spirit as an advocate, partner, helper, and counselor. This is a beautiful picture of how we might lead others in ministry; coming alongside them in a way that educates, encourages, and empowers them to do the same for others.
- Effective mentorship is a propeller. Seasoned leaders possess knowledge that younger teachers cannot acquire in isolation. Wisdom must be gained by experience, or passed along through personal coaching and guidance. Even the sharing of information on where to find good information (like what blogs, podcasts, events, and resources you trust) is best communicated through personal referral. When seasoned leaders share their victories, failures, values, philosophy of ministry, and overall expertise with younger leaders it propels them more quickly down the path to mature leadership.
So, who are you mentoring in ministry? Who are you training up to be the next generation of kids ministry influencers for the kingdom of God in your community? Who have you identified? Who are you meeting with this week? To whom are you entrusting your knowledge and imparting your passions? To whom are you delegating ministry tasks? If something were to happen and you were no longer able to lead, who have you prepared to step up and take your place?
If you do not already have a person or persons to mentor, start praying right away that God would lay someone on your heart. Once you have found that person to invest in, take meaningful steps to make a personal connection, develop a partnership, and propel them on towards a lasting legacy of ministry in your footsteps. Our greatest legacies live on in other people. If today’s leaders do not train up tomorrow’s, every ministry is just one generation away from extinction.
Chuck Peters is Director of Operations for Lifeway Kids. A graduate of Columbia Bible College, Chuck has served vocationally & voluntarily in Student and Children’s Ministry for many years.