Develop: Changing the Way WMU Leaders Are Trained

As technology has changed, it has changed the way educational classes can be delivered. While many still enjoy the traditional classroom setting with a teacher and the camaraderie of other students, some need options that allow them to learn on their own schedule. I am one of those learners.

I have taken courses through Develop, WMU’s online and on-demand leadership training. While leadership conferences are still offered by national WMU, state WMUs, and associations, Develop’s courses extend the availability for leadership training to anyone with a computer at any time of the day or night. I have worked on courses at all hours, both on my computer and on my smartphone.

I appreciate that all Develop courses are reasonably priced and provide opportunity for interactive learning. Courses are self-paced and designed to be completed in about 4 hours. Each Develop course is a stand-alone module with a month to complete the work. The deadline provided me with motivation to get finished in a reasonable amount of time yet without too much time pressure.

The variety of Develop courses available means that there are online classes for almost every WMU organizational leader. These include not only courses about how to lead the organization but also courses in working with the age level. These general age-level courses are excellent not only for WMU leaders but also for those who lead other classes and activities, such as Sunday School, music, and discipleship.

For example, all children’s leaders will find Uniquely Designed: Children and How Children Learn to be helpful training for working with children in any setting. Children in Action, Girls in Action, and Royal Ambassadors leaders will also want to take their organization specific courses. These are helpful to new and experienced leaders. As a leader who recently started teaching children again after many years, some courses to help me brush up were helpful.

As churches look toward enlisting new leaders for the 2018–19 church year, Develop courses are an excellent recruitment tool. Assuring a new leader of available training before starting is a way to build confidence and help the leader be prepared from day 1. When a church reimburses a leader for the cost of a Develop course, it demonstrates an appreciation for the leader’s investment of time and effort to prepare for leadership. Whether the leader is taking courses prior to assuming a new leadership role or taking the courses as an experienced leader, church reimbursement of the cost is a strong statement of support.

Even if your church cannot reimburse individuals for taking Develop courses, the church should affirm each leader who completes a course. Ask leaders to report on Develop courses that have been completed to the church. Recognize leaders who have completed courses in the church newsletter or WMU report in business meetings, or both. Congratulate leaders for completing courses and thank them for their investment in leadership.

Develop courses can also be used for a group training experience in the church or association. Several leaders taking a Develop course could come together for discussion of the material learned and application in your church or associational setting. Another option would be for all leaders currently enrolled in a class to meet together at a time and place where each person can log in at the same time and go through all or part of the course together. This is a great way to offer church or associational leadership training.

Learn more about Develop and other courses from Register for a course today!

Joy Bolton is executive director, Kentucky WMU. She is currently taking classes through and working toward a certificate in the Christian Women’s Leadership Center program. She has also taken several of the Develop courses to help her as a leader in her church. She is the author of the WMU Missions Guide for Churches and the WMU Missions Guide for Associational Leaders.

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