Lately I’ve been intensely involved with youth leader training—both developing it and delivering it, throughout North America and other parts of the world. Recently, I’ve noticed a shift in how many people think about youth leader training. Many youth workers are recognizing the immediate need for training that is contextualized. The specific uniqueness of their individual culture and subculture has compelled these leaders to situate their training (in all forms—inspirational, informational, formational, and so on) directly amid the needs of their co-laborers.
While I wish organizations such as YouthFront were called on more often to develop and deliver training (that’s how we pay our bills, after all), I love that contextualized youth leader training is finding its way into the core of what church workers prioritize.
As you develop youth leader training for your particular context, I recommend following these 5 tips:
1. Know the need.
What is the need you’re trying to address? Specifically, what is the area of help you are attempting to provide? Is it theological, philosophical or both? Is it a practical matter such as building relationships, facilitating small groups or teaching Sunday school? Whatever the contextual need is that you’re attempting to address, it must be explicit in the training in order to be effective.
2. Know your objectives.
Addressing a specific need or set of needs is one thing; developing a set of objectives for both the presenter/facilitator and the learner are critical. Effective learning objectives allow training participants to have a clear understanding of what they can specifically do after the training gathering to implement or apply the concepts and ideas in the training. Clear objectives also allow for effective evaluation and revision of the material.
3. Know the type of training you’re offering.
For example, is the training a workshop or a seminar? There’s a dramatic difference between these two types of training. Seminars are specialized classes in which information is presented and seldom acted upon. Workshops, on the other hand, are typically more collaborative in nature and tend to be more creative in their delivery. Training workshops, as opposed to training seminars, most often offer actual examples or role-playing that helps apply the ideas and concepts within the training experience itself.
4. Know what the training’s ultimate purpose is.
In my opinion, the most effective training keeps the learner in mind. The most helpful youth leader training is not designed to prop up the abilities of the presenter. Instead, helpful training is intentional about finding ways to engage the learner at their own level of interest, desire and ability. Is the material you are training designed for inspiration, information, formation or all three? Determining the delivery purpose is essential to the laser focus that the training ought to provide for its learners.
5. Know the importance of evaluation and live by it.
For many trainers, the tendency after finishing a seminar or workshop is to simply be done with it. However, to develop the most effective youth leader training for your context, you must appreciate and engage intentional evaluation. Develop a structure for evaluation that allows the training participants to provide honest feedback and constructive input. Allowing the trainees to help craft high-quality training will enrich the learning of the entire community.
What other tips do you have for youth leader training? Share them in the comments below.