By Bruce Raley
In a society marked by consumerism, individualism and ever-changing technology, providing options is a necessity. People not only want, but often, need the ability to choose between options. Training and leadership development are certainly no exceptions.
Every church needs training. New leaders need to be equipped for effectiveness in ministry, and experienced leaders need on-going development. However, many church leaders have become discouraged at the lack of participation in the traditional training settings.
Options can be our friend. While the provision of options may bring challenges, it can also provide distinct advantages. Think through some of the suggested training options below.
LifeWay.com has hundreds of articles ready for training. New articles are posted regularly. For easy access, go to the specific ministry area and search for topics. For example, if you want articles related to Bible study teachers, go to LifeWay.com and search “Bible study leader” and then click the “Learn” tab. Dozens of articles will be available. Print the chosen article and distribute to every Bible study teacher in your church. Or, why not email a training article to Bible study leaders each week?
2. Online training
The Web can be a tremendous source for training helps. Online learning is the growing wave today and will be growing even greater in the days ahead. Online learning allows leaders to train at convenient times and locations.
Soon LifeWay will provide churches the opportunity to train and learn through the launch of Ministry Grid. This online learning site will house thousands of training videos for pastors, church staff, church leaders and personal growth. Ministry Grid also will allow churches to upload their own training videos to a personalized site, as well as track assignments and participation. Be looking for the launch in May 2013, but you can check it out now at MinistryGrid.com.
A number of online training videos are presently available at LifeWay.com. In addition, The Exchange is a weekly Web show hosted by LifeWay Research President Ed Stetzer addressing issues related to church and culture. Mike Harland, director of LifeWay Worship hosts The Choir Room, a monthly webcast for worship leaders. They are available at LifeWay.com/TheExchange and LifeWay.com/TheChoirRoom, respectively.
3. Bible study leader guides
The leader guides for Explore The Bible, The Gospel Project and Bible Studies for Life curriculum lines have articles each month that help leaders grow. These articles can be used as topics of discussion in leadership meetings or online forums.
4. Book study
An effective option for leader training is a book study. Choose a particular book, ask leaders to purchase the book and lead group discussions in leadership gatherings.
5. Nashville and Ridgecrest Conference Center
For many years, LifeWay has provided leadership training at the LifeWay home office in Nashville, Tenn., and Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C. These events provide high quality concentrated training led by recognized ministry leaders. They also allow for a setting of relaxation and inspiration. It’s not too late to register for these events.
The training events include Sunday School Weekend, Worship Week, Black Church and Family Week, BETA conferences for education ministers, student ministers, childhood education and women’s ministry, plus many more. Information can be found at LifeWay.com/Events.
Certainly a number of other viable options exist. These include newsletters and podcasts, along with denominational and local training events. The key to training is intentionality. Consider the culture of your church and community. Then, devise a 9- to 12-month leadership development plan.
Bruce Raley is director of church education ministry.