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A Twist on Volunteer Training: “Leader Lunch & Learn”

Leadership / Personal Development / Volunteers //

Training and equipping our kidmin leaders is of utmost importance if we want them to lead well in their ministry area and to have longevity in serving with us.

There are many challenges when it comes to volunteer training, however.

How can we make it beneficial to rookies and veterans alike?

How can we make it appealing so that they’ll actually come out for the event?

Are there some creative elements we can incorporate to make it fun and memorable?

What can we call it other than ‘training’?

How do we make it both informative and engaging?

There are so many resources available for kidmin leaders to take advantage of to train and equip volunteers.  One of the best resources, in my opinion, are workshops that I attend.  Many times when I travel to national workshops I am unable to take staffers or volunteers with me, so I try to find ways to share what I’ve learned in various contexts.  Usually, I purchase audio recordings from the places I attend and pass them along to others.  However, I felt compelled recently to try something different.

I attended Group’s KidMin Conference back in September and one of the workshops I took there was called “50 Ways to Bring the Bible to Life”.  (You can pick up my notes here).  I loved the premise and content provided, so I thought that it would be cool to teach my version to our elementary and preteen leaders.  I absolutely THRIVE on preparing for events like this, so I was very excited about how it would come together.

When I began thinking about a catchy name for this event, I knew that it wouldn’t be called “training”.  I mean, that screams excitement, right? NOT!!  So after some careful thought, I landed upon Leader Lunch & Learn.  This past Sunday, I hosted our very first Leader Lunch & Learn and it was great!  Here are some details about the event:

I wanted this event to be (1) a time of fellowship (over a delicious lunch that we provided, of course!), for the leaders to get to know each other better in an informal, casual setting; (2) informative – leading a group of children requires our leaders to know what they’re doing; (3) practical – I wanted the information presented to be something that they could use right away; and (4) engaging – I wanted attendees to get share ideas (it’s always a good idea to have team members learn from each other) and practice what they’ve learned.

Keeping those four things in mind, the event began to take shape.  I designed an invitation that was sent to adult and student leaders via email (I used Mail Chimp).  I set up responses to go to a form I created on Google Forms – very easy to do.  Then I used the workshop notes to come up with a time flow/outline for the 90 minutes that we’d have together:

Arrival

Welcome & Overview (5 minutes)

I welcomed everyone, thanked them for coming and gave them an overview of what our time together would look like.

Lunch & Fellowship (20 minutes)

Since we held this event immediately following our 2nd service hour, serving lunch was not an option.  I landed on a simple, delicious lunch that was very affordable and easy to set up:  I ordered a deli sandwich wrap platter and provided potato chips, fresh fruit, cookies, brownies, iced tea, lemonade and bottled water.

Introductions, Introduce the “Smarts”, Have team take “Smarts” Inventory (7 minutes)

Our elementary and preteen ministries are run separately, so many of the attendees had never met each other.  We took a few minutes to introduce ourselves and then I had them quickly fill out the “Got Smarts” inventory (that was included in the workshop notes) so that they could discover their primary “smart”.

Review responses from “Got Smarts” Inventory, Talk about “Smart Chart”, and Ways to Incorporate these ideas into their large group & small group times (25 minutes)

After reviewing the responses from the “Got Smarts” inventory, we discussed what each ‘smart’ looked like and ways to incorporate each ‘smart’ into our lessons. Since each of our volunteers is very gifted and creative, I wanted them to learn from each other, too, so they tossed out additional ideas that were not included in the original notes.  They had some great suggestions!

Group Assignment & Sharing

I wanted everyone to get some practice incorporating what they had learned, so I broke the group up into 3 smaller groups and assigned each group a Bible story: The Good Samaritan (Luke 10;30-37); Jonah and the Whale (Jonah 1); and Feeding of the 5000 (Matthew 14:13-21).  Their task was to brainstorm ideas to bring the Bible to life by incorporating each ‘smart’ into that particular Bible story.  Boy did they do an awesome job with that.  When they shared their ideas, I was blown away!  You can read their ideas here.

Wrap Up/Thank You’s

I closed our time together by reminding them to not be afraid to think outside of the box and infuse creativity into their lessons to help the Bible come to life for every student in their group.  I affirmed them, thanked everyone for coming and reminded them to take home a special treat I had prepared for them.  Since we were talking about ‘smarts’, it was only fitting to use “Smarties” in the treat bags.

Take-Home Treat (the front)

 

Take-Home Treat (the back)

As a result of preparing for this training event, feedback was so positive that we will offer a new topic every other month.  I asked volunteers for suggestions on future topics and so we’re set for our next event, which will be held in January.  I can’t wait!

Now it’s your turn – what does your volunteer training/equipping opportunities look like?

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About the Author

Kathie Phillips is the Director of Children’s Ministry at Central Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Married to Lance and mom to Daniel and Kennedy, Kathie shares practical tips and inspiration for kidmin leaders, volunteers and families each week on her blog, KidMinspiration.com.