The next generation has become a common phrase in the world today. Recently I heard consumer reports about several next generation products. You don’t have to be a “Trekkie” to know there is a Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. For the purpose of this blog, the next generation refers to the next generation of Sunday School leaders—regardless of age and regardless of how they serve through the Sunday School ministry. How can we equip the next generation of Sunday School leaders?
Recently I am constantly thinking about how we need to address what I call a leadership continuum. Imagine a line running from left to right and numbered 1-10 with the left side representing the lower levels of commit on the part of the leader. The far right would represent a higher level of commitment.
The continuum represents the various ways we grow leaders. None of these levels are bad, but there is a danger in focusing all of our efforts in only one area of the continuum. For example, I do not have to have as high level of commitment to attend a leadership meeting or training at my church as I do in a coaching or mentoring relationship. I also suspect the greater level of commitment required, we may likely find a greater impact.
I am finding most churches tend to do more things on the lower end of the continuum. If we are going to equip the next generation of leaders we need to insure we provide options across the leadership continuum. Recently regular subscribers to this blog read Darryl Wilson’s article, “Enlist and Train Leaders for Sunday School Growth.” Review the options: provide training, coach to success, and apprentice to stay ahead. These are great examples of the continuum.
Plot your course by first evaluating where you are in terms of the leadership continuum. Draw your own line and number it 1-10. Underneath the appropriate area, list the options you now provide for equipping Sunday School leaders. Include everything—from giving someone a book to read, praying with and for potential leaders to the more intensive options such as coaching or mentoring.
Observe where most of your options lie on the continuum. Gather 3-4 other key leaders and pray about how you can challenge leaders across the continuum by providing other options. Be sure to include “next step” options to help move leaders along the continuum. By the time leaders are involved in the higher levels of commitment, they will be growing and reproducing other leaders themselves.
Finally, model what you expect from your leaders. Great leaders want to be challenged. What will you do to equip the next generation of leaders?
Belinda Jolley serves as the Director of the Adult Ministry Office of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Belinda and her husband, Steve, enjoy starting new classes at First Baptist Church in Rock Hill, South Carolina.