English poet John Donne wrote in the 17th century that “no man is an island,” and the observation still holds true today. It simply means no one is self-sufficient — everyone relies on others for something they cannot provide for themselves.
When it comes to leading children, I hope you’ve already noticed you cannot do it alone. Regardless of how much help you already have, here are some ideas to multiply your forces and rally the troops to assist you in this amazing journey.
Monthly Planning and Prayer Sessions
Make monthly planning with other missions discipleship leaders in your church a priority. Work together to pray for and plan common events and activities, or to simply pray and compare notes.
If there is just one children’s missions discipleship group in your church, meet with the preschool or the student missions leader(s) to talk through the upcoming unit of study and any resources you can partner together to locate and share.
Associational Training Events
By attending an associational training event (or just calling the associational office), you can find out which churches in your area host children’s missions discipleship groups.
Reach out to those churches to partner together. Consider sharing resources, special guest speakers, ideas, and training. Working with a like-minded partner can make things so much easier to prepare and lead.
Mentor Potential New Leaders
Jesus set an example for us to follow to create a sustainable ministry by investing His knowledge in and sharing His ministry with His disciples.
By taking time to invest in upcoming, potential leaders, you ensure that someone will be there to take the lead and continue teaching children about missions when you are not there.
Know that while not everyone is meant to work with children, some people are literally waiting to be asked to pitch in and help.
What does mentoring someone look like?
First, prayerfully consider who you should ask to help. God has most likely already been working on someone’s heart to prepare them. Talk to your children’s minister and/or pastor for suggestions.
Second, make the ask. Explain that you don’t expect them to be leading on day 1 and that you will teach them what you have learned about leading missions discipleship, you will give them ample opportunities to observe how you lead, and you will give them time to practice leading while you help.
Reassure them you will also be available later for any help or advice they might need when leading their own group. Ideally, this will be a person who can be a part of those monthly planning and prayer sessions!
Third, follow through. If we look at Jesus’ ministry again as our example, He spent time with His disciples. He taught them by example. He also gave them opportunities to put into practice what He was teaching them.
Don’t look for a quick fix to getting help, but rather to help someone fulfill God’s call to ministry on their life. What a blessing and an honor!
And remember, we always recommend leaders work in pairs and never teach a group without another adult in the room. Having a minimum of two leaders protects the kids and the adults. If your church does not have a policy like this in place, consider making this your personal goal and educating your congregation and church staff on the need to protect kids and leaders.
Ask Professionals for Help and Guidance
Look to professionals who work with the children’s age level (grades 1–6) for tips about organization, behavior concerns, and fun ways to present material. You may have several of these individuals in your church: teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, medical personnel, etc.
Regardless of their involvement in missions discipleship, they may be more than happy to help you prepare to lead, share ideas, and even share supplies.
As a supplement, we offer How to Lead Children’s Missions Discipleship, which includes information like missional characteristics for children; ways children learn, learning styles of children, and behavior management; and a section on “Getting Started” for GA, RA, and CA groups.
Reaching out to another leader for advice, a division of labor, or just to pray and compare notes about what you are teaching gives you a chance to grow as a leader and hear from someone else who may be experiencing the exact same things you are. But it also gives that other leader an opportunity to learn from you as well.
Never underestimate what you can share with another leader and they can share with you!