One of the best ways to train a worker is to have someone more experienced come alongside of them and teach them the ins and outs of the job.  This process is called mentoring.


Mentoring is a deliberate pairing of a more skilled or experienced person with a lesser skilled or experienced one with the agreed upon goal of having the lesser skilled person grow and develop specific competencies. Mentoring is an individualized, one-to-one environment for the exchange of experience and wisdom. One moves from equipping to mentoring when the focus shifts from the job-task-organization to the growth and development of the person as a whole. Mentoring occurs when we have transcended the position and focused on achieving the wants or needs of the protégé. A mentor is a guide. Mentors lead others through new terrain because they have been there before and are equipped to lead. Mentors model what they want their followers to do. Their actions weigh as heavy as their words. You are a mentor, and you need a mentor. Mentoring is a relational experience through which one person empowers another person to fulfill God’s design for their lives. A mentor is a tutor, a coach, a door opener, a way shower, a corrector, an encourager, and a guide. A mentor is a person who believes in you and wants to see you win.

Biblical examples of mentoring

1. Moses and Joshua
2. Eli and Samuel
3. Elijah and Elisha
4. Jesus and disciples
5. Barnabas and Saul
6. Barnabas and John Mark
7. Paul and Timothy

History of mentoring

The origin of the term “mentor” dates to the time of Homer when Odysseus left his son Telemachus in the care of a mythical guardian named Mentor. It illustrates a practice common in ancient Greece. Young men were often paired with older men in an attempt to pass on cultural values through emulation and training. The word derives from the image of a loyal, wise, and helpful friend—a teacher, protector, and guide––who uses his experience to show a person how to overcome difficulties and avoid dangers. From the Stone Age on, youngsters learned how to hunt, gather and prepare food, and fight their enemies under the guidance of older members of their family or clan.

In the Middle Ages, craftsmen in guilds made use of facilitated mentoring by taking on an apprentice and teaching him until he attained the status of master.

Mentoring can be seen in various internship programs, like medical interns and articled law students. Many colleges and seminaries are adding internship programs for pastors and staff; some are required, and some are electives. When a person writes a doctoral thesis, he has a mentor.

Since the mid 70s, there has been a renewed interest in mentoring. It is being used in many businesses, and in many educational and social organizations. In formal facilitated mentoring, each participant is oriented to their roles and responsibilities, care is taken to match the mentor and the protégé, and they actually negotiate an agreement. At the end of specified time, the relationship is terminated.

Benefits to the mentor

1. A close personal relationship
2. A sense of significance and accomplishment
3. Developing a renewed interest—personal renewal
4. Increased productivity
5. A sense of self-fulfillment
6. An impact through your life
7. A connection with the next generation
8. A sounding board for new ideas

There is no better way to learn than by teaching. However, a mentor must make the time commitment, expect little reward, and realize that the protégé may equal or exceed him.

Benefits of having a mentor

1. Promotes growth in protégé
2. Provides a model to follow
3. Helps to reach goals
4. Assistance in the organization – speaks up for you
5. Can accelerate the progress of the protégé

Characteristics of a good mentor

1. Character
2. Leadership ability
3. Strong interpersonal skills – talk and listen
4. Can hold confidences
5. Able to confront when necessary
6. Encourager
7. Accessible, and has time available
8. Patient
9. Committed to the success of the protégé

Characteristics of a good protégé

1. Similar life goals to the mentor
2. Character
3. Self-disciplined and self-motivated
4. Positive attitude
5. Not satisfied with the status quo
6. Ability to communicate
7. Willingness to learn – teachable
8. Receptive to criticism
9. Persistent
10. Enjoyable and comfortable to be with

Guidelines for finding the right mentor

1. Clarify your level of expectations.
2. Accept a subordinate, learning position.
3. Immediately put into effect what you are learning.
4. Be disciplined in relating to the mentor – use time wisely.
5. Reward your mentor with your own progress.
6. Don’t threaten to give up.

Guidelines for selecting a person to mentor

Spend 80% of your time on the most promising 20% of the potential leaders.
1. Select people whose philosophy of life is similar to yours.
2. Choose people with potential you genuinely believe in.
3. Determine what they need.
4. Evaluate their progress constantly.
5. Be committed, serious, and available to the people you mentor.

Developing a mentoring program in a local church

1. Remember that mentoring is a relationship, and not a program.
2. Provide opportunities for older men and women to find potential protégés and encourage them to develop the relationship of a mentor.
3. Teach about mentoring.
4. Enlist potential mentors.
5. Train the mentors.
6. Enlist protégés.
7. Train protégés.
8. Name the program (examples: Men’s Challenge, The 2:2 Program [after 2 Timothy 2:2], The Brotherhood of Barnabas, Pathfinders, Man to Man, etc.)

Training Through Supervision

Supervision is more than “snooper-vision.” Supervision is important. Remember, people do what we inspect, not what we expect!

The task of supervision is not one that should be foreign to the Christian enterprise. Supervisor is an English word from the Latin word super, meaning advisor or one who sees. It matches the Greek word in the New Testament, episcopos, which means overseer, and from which comes the modern concept of pastor. This means that supervision is rooted in the concept of pastoring the Christian enterprise. The purpose of evaluation should be directly related to the purpose of the church. Its purpose is redemptive in every way. This means that the evaluation process should contribute primarily to the strengthening of the
person being evaluated and secondarily to the accomplishment of the tasks of the church.

The very word supervision arouses resistance in volunteer church workers, for it puts them on the defensive. Visions arise of an expert watching them at work, seeing faults, and waiting for a chance to criticize. This is unfortunate, for supervision can be one of the most effective tools for improving the leadership of a church. The kind of supervision that churches need is a plan whereby an experienced worker will council with and make suggestions to a less experienced worker as they work together in a program. Almost everyone who takes on a job wants to do it well, and volunteers will stay longer, feel more satisfied, and be of greater help to the organization if they receive constructive feedback from those who supervise them. Regular, relevant feedback to volunteers is important.

Failure to provide such feedback is grossly unfair for two main reasons:
First, some of the feedback will be positive and encouraging. But whether congratulatory or cautionary, all of it will be useful to the volunteer, and he deserves to be treated as an adult in this respect.
Second, where inadequacies in the volunteer’s work are identified and discussed, along with reasonable suggestions on improvement, the volunteer is given a fair chance to correct the problems.

Supervision may be unpleasant, but it is profitable. The Bible says “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness
and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

Business has long ago seen the need for supervision. It has been an accepted part of the world outside of the church for many years. Many of our church members serve either as a supervisor or under a supervisor in their vocation. They realize the potential of such a person and wonder why their church is not using this more. Many churches are seeing the benefits of such a program and are using supervision. Supervisors are in place in any well organized church (see chapter on organization), but many times they are not actually doing the job of supervision. This is especially true in the Sunday School department superintendent position. An increasing number of churches are using a roving supervisor teacher.

The role of the supervisor in the training of leadership is growing as churches and their organizations grow in size. More and more the pastor and his professional staff are being moved further and further away from the place where the work is actually being done. In situations like this, someone is needed to lead between the pastor and staff members who are actually dealing with getting the job done. This person is the supervisor, and he has an important task in the training of the personnel under him.

Supervisor appraising performance

1. When a supervisor begins to evaluate a worker, a number of questions can be asked:
a. Was the job description fulfilled?
b. Were the abilities of the worker utilized?
c. Are there areas for improvement?
d. What are the strengths and weaknesses?
e. Has the worker had a good attitude?
f. What suggestions for improvement can be made?

2. A suggested performance appraisal meeting procedure is simple:
First, review the purpose of the appraisal.
Second, review a list of accomplishments and disappointments prepared by the person being appraised.
Third, review the person’s performance against the job description.
Fourth, review progress made by the person toward any objectives previously set (last appraisal meeting).
Finally, determine two or three areas of improvement to work on.

3. A number of questions could be asked in an appraisal interview:
a. Background investigation
1) How are things going?
2) How could things be better?
3) What problems are you having?
4) Why are those problems happening?
5) How long has the situation been this way?
6) What happened prior to this situation?
b. Creative options
1) What do you think you might do if the situation doesn’t change?
2) What has been your response?
3) What are the pros and cons of that response?
4) Are there other responses you might consider?
5) If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently?
6) What would you advise someone else to do in this situation?
c. Implementation
1) Of the possible options, which would be best fit with your situation?
2) What will you need before trying to implement the solution?
3) How will this affect other people in the organization?
4) Is there a best way to communicate this change to others?
5) How will you monitor responses to this attempted solution?
6) Is there anything I can do to help make your plan work?
7) When can we talk about this again?

4. A procedure to use when using observation and evaluating a worker (like a Sunday School teacher) could be as follows:
a. Two weeks notice is given before observation
b. Observe for consecutive weeks where possible
c. Come early and stay late
d. Remain in room after session to talk with workers
e. Use an evaluation form
f. Observer should try to be inconspicuous
g. Meet with workers within 2 weeks of observations

Other tasks of supervisors

A supervisor will engage in program planning sessions, pre-teaching conferences, observation of leaders at work, follow-up conferences, evaluation procedures, practice teaching, demonstration teaching, and planning of individual directed study programs. He should be the best teacher in the church. This is the only one qualified to tell others how to teach, to show them new methods, and to lead them to see what they are doing wrong. He should be able to bring the help that is needed – to the person that needs it, at the time it is needed, and in the way that will help the most.

Most of the work of the supervisor will be positive and helpful. He is to help the teacher in planning, give demonstrations of good teaching techniques, assist in directed study, and give encouragement. However, corrective supervision is also a part of the supervisor’s task. He must point out the things that are being done inadequately. Centuries ago Aristotle pointed out evidence of this need when he said that a man becomes a good flute-player by playing the flute, but he also becomes a bad flute-player by playing the flute. Simply because a person has been doing a job for 20 years is no proof he is doing better. He may have 20 years of experience, or he may have 1 year of experience 20 times. A supervisor is needed to guide the worker in the right way of doing the job to make his experience profitable.

Methods for supervisors to use

The supervisor has a number of valuable methods open for him to use in leadership training. A competent supervisor can observe the worker at work and then, in a private conference with the worker, evaluate the task he was performing and use this as one of the best methods to develop others. In addition to this a supervisor could devise with the worker a directed study program to meet his specific needs. This should include a timetable with conference periods set up to discuss the materials read and how they relate to the job at hand. A final method is quite simple––encouragement. If a worker feels he is appreciated, and if he receives an encouraging word now and then, it may make the difference between defeat and victory. All workers like to feel needed and appreciated.

A number of techniques for effective supervision include:
1. Work through people, and not around them.
2. Follow the chain of command.
3. Give authority equal to the responsibility (and trust and freedom).
4. Clarify your expectations.
5. Confront problems, not people.
6. Handle problems promptly.
7. Give recognition for a job well done.
8. Stand up for your workers.
9. Check on it and leave it there.
10. Don’t do the work for subordinates.
11. Let workers participate in decision-making.

In-Service Training

The first thing to do is to decide what needs to be done. The training that is needed to do the job should be decided on. One helpful thing to do is to ask persons who have been doing the job what kind of training they feel is needed. A number of questions need to be asked. What would someone beginning this ministry need to know to do it well? What kinds of skills would be useful in this ministry that persons aren’t likely to have before they are recruited? What experiences, training, or resources have been helpful to you in this ministry? What would you want to say to the person who follows you in this ministry? When a church has decided what is needed, they are ready to discover what training is currently available, and see how well it covers the responses. Then they will be ready to design an in-service training program.

In-service training should begin with an orientation of a new worker. Orientation is helping persons prepare to do a ministry before they actually begin. Many times volunteers, once recruited, are “thrown” into the job without any real knowledge of what is going to happen or what to expect. They find themselves confused, bewildered, and, in fact, lost with their responsibilities! When a volunteer is placed in a position without any orientation, he or she will be playing “catch up,” and will find it extremely hard to be excited and motivated, while struggling to keep one’s head above water! Several methods can be used to do new worker orientation: review the job description, review the resources, review the facilities and equipment, answer questions, and attend a meeting.

Start-up support is needed by new volunteers. When volunteers, having had some initial training, begin actual work for the organization, they enter a period in which much support is needed. Beginnings are hard for all of us. But it is also a fruitful period of training, because there is in the new volunteer, as in the child, greater openness to change at the beginning than after patterns have developed. The start-up period is the time when volunteers’ repertoire of resources, skills, and alternatives is probably least developed. They often, therefore, find decision-making difficult. Volunteers in the start-up period also have a great need to feel recognized and accepted by the people already in the system. This start-up support can be given by a supervisor, trainer, or coworker with a supportive chat with the volunteer after the first day on the job. Another way is to have each new volunteer paired with an experienced worker from the beginning, and the experienced worker discusses the job frequently with the new workers. A third method is to have a short meeting of the new volunteers and let them reflect on their first few days. The supervisor should conduct this meeting.

In-service training programs usually include weekly or monthly workers meetings, workshops, conferences, retreats, conventions, and supervision and evaluation.

A weekly meeting for planning and training

Many Sunday Schools have a Wednesday night teachers and officers meeting every week. Many churches have an inexpensive family supper on Wednesday and special programs for the children while the workers are having their meeting. Most churches with a bus ministry have a Saturday morning bus workers meeting every week. The weekly meeting generally includes some time for training as well as some for planning and other administrative matters. The weekly Sunday School workers meeting in one church has 15 minutes for administrative matters such as planning, promotion, visitation, evaluation, and problem solving, followed by a 25 minute teaching improvement period. The teaching improvement period always gives some helps for the next week’s lesson, but would include more than just a “teaching” of the lesson to the teachers.

A monthly meeting for planning and training

Most church program organizations which have monthly meetings for workers give a major segment of the time to in-service training. Many small Sunday Schools have made the monthly workers meeting a very effective time. The monthly meeting might have about one hour for a workshop and one hour for the curriculum planning for the next month. A workshop teaches specific skills through activity or learning by doing. The workshop time could be used in training in the use of methods, such as drama, music, creative writing, flannel graph, overhead projector, object lessons, story telling, memorization, maps, puppets, and a host of others. The workers could also be taught about the age group characteristics and needs of the group they are working with in a workshop time. Many, many subjects could be profitably treated in these monthly workshops.

Annual training conference

Many churches have an annual workers conference that will last for several nights or a Friday night and all day Saturday. Larger churches usually plan this just for them. Several smaller churches can combine and conduct an effective annual workers conference. Many denominations offer these types of programs for their churches. A conference of this type would usually use outside resource persons, and would divide up into specific sessions for various age groups. Churches often require a minimum of one training experience a year, such as a seminar, workshop, conference, or class.

Weekday club programs, like AWANA and Word of Life, generally sponsor a district training conference each year. This is generally in the fall and is very helpful in starting a new program year.

Other special annual training conferences:
1. A committee training night for members and chairpersons
2. Deacon training retreat
3. Ushers workshop
4. Nursery workers workshop

Conventions and conferences away from the church

Excellent training is available for those able to travel to Sunday School conventions and special training conferences offered by some large churches and other groups. Many states have annual Sunday School conventions. Many denominations sponsor special events like this on a state or regional basis.

The church library

The church library should not be forgotten when leadership training is being considered. An individual reading program, especially with some guidance, can be a highly effective training aid. Adequate materials should be available including books, periodicals, and cassette tapes. However, a strong promotion program must be carried out to get maximum use from a church library. Reviews of materials at workers meetings will greatly encourage their use.

Job training guides

One idea for training that has unbelievable potential is the use of “Job Training Guides.” These were suggested by Cox in a book, Ideas for Training Sunday School Leaders. He suggested making a list of the duties of a position, and then determining the training that would be needed to carry out those duties. This training would then be put in a “Job Training Guide.” These guides would use readings from books and magazines, listening to tapes, and other methods that could be done individually. Some interaction would be necessary, perhaps writing, and then reporting on the exercises. This type training program is used by many groups from Boy Scouts to big businesses. Many times the church enlists a person for a position and he is the only one to be trained at that particular time. A training guide that he could work through individually would be a great asset.

Leaders teaching their followers

Every good leader will also constantly be developing the people he is leading and preparing them for additional responsibilities. Every good leader is a good teacher, and will use the principles of teaching as he leads to develop those under him. At least five of the principles of teaching relate to leading:

1. Teaching and leading will build a sense of anticipation, significance, and pleasure in others.
2. Teachers and leaders start where the followers are and move with them. It is important not to get too far ahead.
3. Teachers must let the learner experience the lesson for himself before it becomes his own. The leader can most surely count upon the sustained support of the led when they have been through the experience sufficiently like his to have brought them to the same conclusions about what they want and how, in general, they shall try to get it.
4. Teachers and leaders are to guide, but not to provide the answers. They should arouse interest, place followers in a problem-solving situation, and then let them find the solution.
5. Teachers and leaders know that good work will take a lot of time, and should be willing to spend the time necessary to accomplish the task.


Give the volunteers a “mini-sabbatical”—perhaps a month off to “travel” in their community to other sites similar to their own in order to get ideas, or to take a training seminar during the hours in which they would usually be offering service. This kind of renewal has not previously been considered for volunteers, but it is an excellent way to help them continue to give productive, efficient, and innovative service in a job they have held for any period of time.

Survey the workers

Survey the present workers to find out what they think they need, and when they would be available for training. Find out where the workers are. The gap between what they know and what they need to know is the need.


Before a new church worker can start their job and be effective, some training is often needed.  Here are more ideas on how to train your workers.

A Bible institute

The content of what a church needs to teach, especially to lay leaders, goes far beyond what could ever be taught in Sunday School classes. Some churches have received significant assistance in their educational endeavors with a Bible institute. A Bible institute is a credit conferring, diploma granting, Christian educational institution that meets regularly in a local church to study the Bible and subjects directly related to it. The purpose of a Bible institute is to equip laypersons for growth and ministry. It may be considered pre-service or in-service.

It does not require a high school diploma. It does not offer liberal arts classes. It has developed from several sources, including the Bible college movement, the Sunday School teacher training programs, and the college extension programs.

Adults are going to school, as the community college movement gives strong evidence. Over 15 million adults are enrolled in some type of continuing education program. Christian adults will enroll in an evening Bible institute program at their church for quality instruction, if it is offered.

Some Bible institutes are started by one church for the purpose of providing training for its membership. Some are by one church, but an attempt is made at providing a service to other churches in the community. Some institutes are actually formed cooperatively by several churches working together. Some institutes are primarily an extension program of a Christian college. There are also correspondence institutes available like the Liberty program and the one from Moody that are primarily designed for individual study.

Curriculum. Many areas of study can be included in a Bible institute. Bible study is a major part, and courses could be offered on Bible survey, Bible book studies, Bible doctrine, Bible geography, Bible archaeology, and biblical introduction. How-to-serve type courses could be offered in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, children’s church, music, Awana, evangelism, and missions. Other areas of study could include family life, church history, Christian leadership, money management, and even psychology and counseling. Materials to use for curriculum are available from many sources.

Schedule. The amount of time for each course may be dictated by the curriculum if a publisher or other organization is to recognize the work and to provide certificates. Evangelical Training Association requires 12 class periods of 50 minutes each, or a total of 10 hours of class time. The Seminary Extension program requires 16 class periods. A church can, of course, set their own standards and give their own certificates.

Bible institutes may meet from 1–4 nights a week. One night a week seems to be the most popular. Class sessions are usually 40–50 minutes in length. One schedule had two periods of 50 minutes each, with the first period being from 7:00–7:50 P.M. followed by a break, and then a second period from 8:20–9:10 P.M. Another schedule has 3 periods of 40 minutes, each with the first from 7:00–7:40 P.M., the second from 7:45– 8:25 P.M., a break from 8:25–8:45 P.M., and the third from 8:45–9:25 P.M. . The term, or semester, might last from 12–16 weeks, with one in the fall and one in the spring. Some churches are providing the equivalent of a Bible institute during the Wednesday evening service.

Workers. A Bible institute will need a few regular workers.
a. A director – to direct the entire program. The pastor or a minister of education would usually be the director.
b. A registrar – to keep the records. A record, complete with grades, should be maintained on all persons entering the program.
c. A treasurer – the director or registrar could do this. Institutes usually charge participants, and the fees must be collected and recorded.
d. Teachers – most of the professional church staff would serve there, but outsiders, including nearby college and seminary teachers, could be included. Outside teachers should be paid $25–50 per class hour.
e. In some churches they will have a committee or board to work with the staff.

Finances. People who attend a Bible institute have been willing to pay a registration fee or tuition as is customary with other educational programs. The church could also receive some income from the sale of texts and other books in connection with the institute. Expenses to the program will include advertising, teaching supplies, record keeping, and maybe salaries for the faculty. Salaries will be necessary if outsiders are used to teach the courses.

Promotion. Send letters, brochures, and posters to churches and schools in the area. Place posters and brochures in Christian bookstores. Announce the program over the Christian radio stations in the area. Write articles for the religious section of the local newspaper. Sponsor a luncheon for area pastors and directors of Christian education to explain the program and to gain their support. There needs to be a lot of in-church promotion. Many churches will offer scholarship assistance for workers in the church to encourage them to participate.

A director of pre-service training.  This person could be given the following responsibilities:
1. Discover training needs
2. Decide how training can be accomplished
3. Determine where training can take place. Here he must consider the time of other programs.
4. Schedule training events. When are participants available? When are instructors available? Will child care be needed, and when is it available?
5. Select training resources
6. Select training instructors
7. Enlist participants – personal, individual invitation that is preceded by a letter
8. Supervise the training
9. Evaluate the training
10. Keep records

The director can use an assistant to help with room arrangements, visitation of absentees, equipment, and materials. A secretary will be needed to maintain records and make reports.

Intro to Staff Training

Once you’ve gone through the long process of finding and enlisting workers, you want to do your best to help them succeed.  This is where training comes in.  Training will enable workers to do their job to the best of their ability.

The training of workers for effective service is a major responsibility of a church. Every Christian is saved to serve and all should have a place of ministry. Effective serving and ministering will require training. The size of the training task is so big because of growth
of churches and the big turnover in volunteer workers.

“When someone begins to become involved in the church, it is important that that person become acquainted with the way in which things are done. It is necessary to learn the operating style of the congregation and the pastor. It is critical to know the way in which voluntary organizations function under the law of the land as well as the law of the church. In short, the desire to do something worthwhile must be informed, channeled, and nurtured”.

Church leader training can basically be divided into two categories: pre-service and in-service. There will be some training programs which will overlap both categories. The Southern Baptist Convention identifies three types of church training: new member orientation, church member training, and church leader training.

John Maxwell, in Developing the Leaders Around You, described a 5-step training process:

1. I model
2. I mentor
3. I monitor
4. I motivate
5. I multiply

Pre-service Training

Many training programs can be considered as pre-service. In effect, pre-service programs would be those a person is involved in before he begins to serve. This is probably the weakest link in the chain of church leadership training. The new member training class, which is conducted by most churches, is a very early and basic type of pre-service training. Some churches have gone beyond the new members class and conducted special training classes for potential leaders.

Potential leader training is the basic kind of pre-service training. It provides basic knowledge and understanding and develops basic skills in the general area of church leadership. A pre-service training program should include such subjects as Bible, theology, spiritual gifts, church history, missions, human behavior, educational theory, teaching, evangelism, music, leadership, and Christian family life. Potential leader training is not intended to equip a person for a specific leadership position. It is designed to help persons decide where they can serve best. Ideally, however, potential leader training should be offered before a person assumes a place of leadership.

The Potential Leader Training class would pull people from the pool of members not serving, train them, and send them out to a place of service, on for additional training, or back into the regular educational program. In setting a time for this, the church needs to consider other programs, space available, teachers, participants, child care, etc. Sunday night before the service has been a good time in many churches.

Pre-service training in Christian schools

Graduates of quality Christian schools like Lynchburg Christian Academy or Liberty University have much of this pre-service training. The formal and required Bible curriculum would include courses like Old Testament and New Testament surveys, basic doctrine, evangelism, and other important classes. A student that graduates from a strong Bible curriculum like these would really have completed a good pre-service training program for church leaders and be ready to begin training for specific places of service.

A prepared course

Rick Warren has developed what he calls a “Life Development Process” with four classes that are definitely in this category:

Class 101, Committed to Membership – is basically a new member class.
Class 201, Committed to Maturity – moves beyond the basics to what it means to be a mature believer.
Class 301, Committed to or Discovering my Ministry – helps a person discover his/her place of ministry. In this class they study SHAPE (Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experience) and use that to develop a personal profile to find the place of ministry.
Class 401, Committed to Missions, is designed to help persons discover their life mission. This is covered a little in his book, The Purpose Driven Church (see p. 130), and more extensively in his seminars. Many churches have adapted these courses, and they really make an excellent pre-service training program.

The Southern Baptist Convention prepared a course entitled “Training Potential Leaders.” The basic sections of this course included leadership skills, Bible, doctrine, and church educational organizations. A church could very wisely establish about a 3-month new members class to be followed by about a 6-month pre-service type of leadership training class. This would be a giant step forward for church leadership training.

The Potential Leader Training Guide suggests a course with 26 sessions or weeks. It suggests that a separate teacher could be used for each course.

Introductory Lesson (1 session)
I. Understanding Servant Leadership (4 sessions)
II. Surveying the Bible (5 sessions)
III. Surveying Baptist Beliefs (8 sessions)
IV. Examining the Work of the Church (4 sessions)
V. Discovering Leadership Skills (3 sessions)
Summary Lesson (1 session)

Evangelical training program

A more extensive type of training program could be considered as a pre-service program. For example, the Evangelical Training Association (ETA) has an excellent training program available.

ETA offers several advantages for a church leader training program. The course offering is extensive and covers all the basic areas of training. The program is nationally advertised and familiar to most church leaders. It has been in use for over 50 years. Standards are established for the teachers, the courses, and the students. Awards given include separate ones for each book completed, plus the certificates. The curriculum materials include a pupil’s book, a teacher’s book, and, for most courses, teaching aids such as overhead transparencies and cassette tapes.

Each course requires twelve class sessions of 45 minutes each, or 10 hours of class time. Each course gives one credit and also carries the additional Continuing Education Unit (CEU) credential, which is academically and industrially transferable all over the world. The teacher must be approved by ETA and their textbooks must be used. Teachers gain approval by graduating from an ETA member school of higher education, like Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary at Liberty University.

The program changed dramatically in 1988. A new three-level church ministries certificate program was introduced. It begins with a Foundational Church Ministries Certificate. This will require the following:

Required courses
Growing Toward Spiritual Maturity
Understanding People
Elective courses (two credits required)
New Testament Survey
Old Testament Survey: Law and History
Old Testament Survey: Poetry and Prophecy
Teaching Techniques or Understanding Teaching
Approved church-designated course

The approved church designated course is a new idea for ETA. The course can be the unique history, mission emphasis, and doctrine of your local church. The course must meet 10 hours, be taught by a competent teacher, and be compatible in student demand to other courses. The outline must be approved in advance by ETA.

When the foundational certificate is earned, ETA then offers 3 ministry tracks:
1. The teacher certificate program is for those teaching in Sunday School, Bible studies, and special ministries.
2. The leader certificate program is for superintendents, administrators, elders, deacons, etc.
3. The program staff certificate program is for workers in children and youth clubs, adult fellowships, and etc.
Each ministry track has a standard certificate and an advanced certificate. Both of these certificates require a minimum of four additional credits.


Another less formal type of pre-service training is to use an apprenticeship type of training with a helper. This can be a very invaluable type of training. An assistant teacher is getting excellent preparation for becoming a teacher. However, an apprentice has already become a type of a leader. The enlistment interview is an important part of the pre-service training program, and is effective if carried out as discussed in the previous chapter.