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7 Habits Of Highly Successful Churches Who Develop Young Leaders

This week my 12-year-old daughter participated in Fellowship Bible Church’s annual Celebrate Summer event as a Teacher’s Assistant for 1st and 2nd graders.  To understand what Celebrate Summer is, just think of a week for children that incorporates the foundational elements of Vacation Bible School with all the fun of summer camp.  Each day consists of bible stories, swimming, games, activities, movies, etc…

At Fellowship, we do a phenomenal job of leadership development for Middle High students.  This week was no exception as my daughter learned lessons and developed skills that will last the remainder of her life.

To give everyone a picture of how we create a next-generation leadership culture,  please make note of the following principles:

  • Preparation – Cynthia was the teacher our daughter would be assisting.  She is high-energy, very pleasant, fun, and full of life.  I knew that my daughter and the class were going to have a fun week.  Cynthia took my daughter to lunch to get to know her.  The two then spent about three hours decorating the room and going over the week’s lessons.  My daughter was prepared.  To develop young leaders, there must be excellent preparation.
  • Feedback – My wife arrived at the church on Tuesday afternoon to pick up our daughter.  Upon entering the classroom, Cynthia was there alone.  Our daughter had gone to another part of the church stating the other youth workers said she had “permission” to leave the classroom.  She was escorted back to her classroom and reminded that she is a Teacher’s Assistant.  She is to not leave Cynthia’s side the entire week unless given permission by her specifically.  The coaching was given with love and received well.  There were no additional issues in this area.  To develop young leaders, you must provide the gift of feedback.
  • Relationships – On Wednesday afternoon, our daughter joined some of the workers who were going swimming.  They had a great time and she deepened many of her existing friendships.  To develop young leaders, you must create environments that are relational. 
  • Trust – Cynthia advised my daughter that she would be presenting the Bible story to the class on Thursday.  This was a challenge to my 12-year-old but she stepped up and prepared well.  To develop young leaders, you must trust them and challenge them with responsibility.
  • Results – The highlight of the week was Thursday.  Cynthia was explaining to the class of 12 the amazing love that God has for them and what Jesus did on the cross.  After leading them in a prayer, she asked if anyone has accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  An amazing 7 of the 12 kids had become freshly redeemed children of God that morning.  Amazing!  To develop young leaders, they must see the fruit of their efforts.
  • The Extraordinary – Totally unprompted, my daughter wrote personal notes to each girl in the class telling them she was praying for them in specific areas of their life.  As a father, I was completely blown away as I know very few adults who would have done something like that.  To develop young leaders, simply teach them to do what is ordinary…and then a little extra.
  • Gratitude – On the final day of the week, my daughter received a Thank You card from a mother whose daughter was one of the recipients of her personal notes.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen her as proud as she was when showing me that card.  Also, Cynthia wrote her a wonderful card as well.  The life lessons that my daughter learned this week were cemented in her heart by these expressions of gratitude.  To develop young leaders, you must demonstrate gratitude for their contributions if you wish to see lasting impact.

Preparation, Feedback, Relationships, Trust, Results, The Extraordinary, and Gratitude.  If you are looking to develop young leaders in your church or organization, practice these seven principles and you will get the results you desire.

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Brian Dodd is a church stewardship & leadership consultant. See www.briandoddonleadership.com for additional insights.