So, you are happily leading your Mission Friends group at church. You love the preschoolers and teaching about missions. You can’t imagine a time when you wouldn’t be right there leading your preschoolers. Then the unexpected happens. Your job changes. Your health changes. Your home or family responsibilities change. Or you must relocate to another town. You can no longer lead your precious preschoolers! What will happen to your Mission Friends group?
The secret is to prepare for such events by replicating yourself before there is a crisis. If you work to replicate yourself, you will have someone to take up the ministry if you must step away. You will also have someone ready to lead a new group when your current group’s enrollment numbers necessitate forming a new group.
How do you replicate yourself?
*First, prayerfully identify a person to train. This may be a person already working in your group as an assistant, or someone else God lays on your heart and mind. Then, ask your candidate if she (or he) is willing to learn about leading Mission Friends. Once she agrees, you are on your way.
*Begin by bringing the person into the room with you, inviting her to observe you as you lead the group. As you move through the session, briefly explain what you are doing and why. For example, you may say, “I chose to do this movement activity now so the preschoolers will be ready to sit for Group Time in a few minutes.”
*Meet with your trainee to introduce various aspects of the Mission Friends Leader and Mission Friends Leader Kit, explaining how you use these items in your planning. Visit wmu.com/preschool together and discuss your way through the How to Lead Mission Friends information. Be sure to familiarize her with your church’s policies for working with preschoolers.
*Once the person is comfortable with the preschoolers and your routine, ask her to prepare and lead an activity or tell the missions story. Afterward, give positive and constructive feedback. Continue giving your trainee leadership over one or two activities each week with appropriate feedback.
*When you are both comfortable that she can lead a whole session successfully, give her the opportunity to do so, with you in the room to observe. As the trainee gains confidence, you may decide to set up a regular schedule of taking turns leading and assisting. Once a person is equipped to lead, she needs to be given the opportunity to lead often.
*During this process, which may take a few months, be sure to keep communication flowing. Be generous with encouragement but also give honest feedback in areas you see which need improvement. Remember, this person will not be just like you. Allow for her gifts and talents to enrich what you do together.
The plus is knowing that you have a well-equipped leader who will continue preschool missions’ education in your church should you need to step away. You will have also strengthened the church by adding another leader who can replicate herself.