Almost ten years ago I launched the preteen ministry at the Vineyard Church in Kenner, LA. We started it with a handful of kids and volunteers. Over the years it has grown to over 150 preteens and impacted hundreds of young people’s lives. A few months ago I felt it was time to turn over the ministry to someone else in order to focus on creating resources for preteen ministry and spending more time with my family. A volunteer who was with us for years stepped up to take it over. It is as healthy today as it was when I was leading it. Why? Because a dream team was built. We all want to build a dream team of leaders who collectively work together to impact the lives of preteens. So, how is it done? All I can do is tell you what I did.

1. RECRUIT – You’ll always be recruiting new people. It is the nature of our business, so always have your antenna up. Look for volunteers inside and outside your peer group. Look for the young and the old. One of the most valuable tools you could have is a reputation of excellence. Once people in the church know how awesome your ministry is over a long period of time, volunteers will be motivated to serve. So, keep your antenna up for new recruits and build a good reputation over time.

2. TRAIN – If you haven’t developed a training program, then start now. Share the vision, mission, values, and practices of your ministry with your team. Provide job descriptions and hold training sessions equipping them with ways to do their job more effectively. Give them the “how to” of their assigned position and you’ll set them up for success.

3. COACH – Once trained, pair the recruit with a coach. It could be yourself or another team member. A coach is someone who has the same job description that the new recruit observes in a ministry setting.  The coach basically says, “watch what I do.” It is a good idea to debrief after each session in order to help the new volunteer process why certain situations were handled as they were. The coach will also work through the next two steps with the recruit.

4. RELEASE – At some point it is time the new team member is released. He needs to spread his wings, make some mistakes, and have some fun with preteens. Of course, don’t completely throw him out to the wolves all alone. Make sure the coach is close by monitoring him and ready to step in for a save if necessary. (A quick side note: think outside the box here. What responsibilities can you turn over to lighten your load? Don’t feel you have to do it all. Delegate as much as you can and work yourself out of a job if you possible. You might love your job now, but what about in 5-10 years? Maybe there is someone in your ministry right now who will be taking it over years from now. Don’t stop what God is doing by not releasing other leaders in your ministry to take on major responsibilities).

5. MONITOR – As the coach watches the new team member, a debriefing time afterwood is a good idea. A quick meeting where the coach gives feedback on the positives and negatives can be real helpful. I suggest a period of time (2-3 months) where the coach monitors a new team member before completely releasing him.

6. NURTURE – Take every opportunity to encourage and thank your volunteers. Keep the vision alive in their hearts. Take time to talk with a team member who is walking through a tough time in life. Watch for burnout and give them a break when needed. Nurture your volunteers so they hang around for the long haul.

The next two steps are so important that I am going to lay it out in Part 2 of How to Build a Dream Team – coming soon! So, stay posted to our website for the next LESSON LEARNED.

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