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Since your leadership development course is the cornerstone of
your successful recruiting, can you tell a little more about

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I developed this after seeing the wrong people work with kids. I
saw children’s pastors who weren’t called to Christian education.
They loved kids, but their teaching was unstructured, undeveloped,
and often unbiblical. I saw Christian educators who weren’t called
to be children’s pastors. They had great systems, solid teaching,
and great structure, but lacked the heart of a shepherd. So I
developed what I felt was a balance of good Christian education and
great shepherd training.

There are three phases to the training. In Phase 1, I develop a
heart for the ministry. We shouldn’t keep saying, “I want help! I
want help!” Rather we should say, “I want hearts! I want hearts!”
People can’t get working with kids until they get into Phase 1-what
we call our Pastoral Piece. Our kids are that important.

If volunteers have been teaching for 15 years, do they still need
to go through this phase?

If you start everyone from the same starting point, they’ll all
see the same finish line. Yes, everyone from the most seasoned
veteran to the public school teacher or even the brand new
Christian must take this course.

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What is Phase 2?

In Phase 2 we sit down with people personally and start the
screening process. We call this the People Piece. They fill out an
application, and we develop the talent for the ministry. They go
into a department to serve under a leader to observe what we do
with curriculum. If we’re more concerned with giving teachers the
package or curriculum, we do them a disservice. We must give them a
passion and vision as well.

And Phase 3?

It is not until Phase 3 that I develop an understanding of
teaching techniques, curriculum, how to lead a child to Christ, or
creative communication. We call this the Program Piece. The
leadership development course is in a manual for them to work on.
I’ve done it as a four-hour Saturday morning course once a month
and one hour a week over four weeks on Sunday mornings.

WOW! What an intense program! How have you developed leaders to
manage these new recruits?

I have 12 directors for each of the ministry areas who are what I
call pastors themselves. They started as first-year recruits like
everyone else. Since they are volunteers, I find that they identify
with their staff of volunteers and vice versa. But that doesn’t
mean they have less to do. I have to help my staff develop a
strategy with a pastoral side and a parental side — shepherding
the kids as well as parents and volunteers. I often hear that
leaders get burned out on administration, so I come alongside them
with a good working plan (see “All in a Week’s Work.”) I love what
God has let me do so much that I want others to share that so
eventually I work myself out of a job!

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