Gone are the days when preteen leaders take on the role of a teacher. Teachers communicate information. Their goal is to convey a though or concept. In faith development, teachers are important in the younger years. However, as the preteen years emerge the transition years begin. Preteens are able to own their relationship with Jesus. They can take the first steps in their walk with God. In order to maximize the “owning process” leaders are most effective when they take on the role of a coach, rather than a teacher.
This past spring my son Ethan, who is 9 years old, played Little League baseball for the very first time. I don’t want to give you too much info about the season because I wrote all about it in the upcoming preteen column in Sep/Oct issue of Children’s Ministry Magazine. For now, let’s say it was a great season for Ethan, his teammates and us parents. My son’s coach, Pete, made all the difference in the world. He’s a great example of an exceptional leader. You can read more about his great leadership skills and what we can all learn from in the column.
For now, let’s talk about the role of a coach. A coach assume their players have a basic understanding of how to play the game. The players know the basics. The coach’s job is to come up with a game plan, communicate that to his players and help make adjustments along the way. A good coach also provides support and encouragement to his players. Pete, my son’s coach, did this really well. He’s a living example of great coach. I saw the outcome of his exceptional coaching in the growth of the players throughout the season. It was amazing to see him in action!
A good preteen leader takes on the role of a coach. He has a vision and game plan for the group. He trains his leaders to “let go” and allow preteens to walk with God on their own. They “let’s go” by communicating to preteens how to follow Jesus and giving them opportunities to live it out in their homes, schools and communities. He and his team discusses with preteens how they’re doing. They talk about the challenges they are facing when it comes to following Jesus. They sort of “huddle up” with preteens and help them make life adjustments as needed. They cheer preteens on in their faith and give them support, love and encouragement along the way.
So, stop recruiting teachers. Instead recruit, train, develop, deploy and nurture a team of coaches who will impact the lives of countess preteens in your community.
If you are looking for “coaching” on how to be a “coach” then check out PreteenMinistry.net’s newest resources: PRETEEN BASICS: A COACHING SERIES. It’s a video based series designed to help leaders maximize their impact to preteens.
Note: The “letting go” philosophy is the brain child of FourFiveSix, a group dedicated to helping you take the next step in your preteen ministry. You can find them online at www.fourfivesix.org. Please be patient though, their website is currently under construction.