the next generation of leaders

what will the next generation of children’s ministry leaders look like? for those of us in our 20’s and 30’s – how will we shape and form and lead children’s ministry so that it influences and encourages children? and more specifically, how will we lead differently than those who led before us?

my own story in church leadership began when i was 18 years old – i began working part-time in promiseland, the children’s ministry of willow creek community church – it was the summer before my jr. year of college, and  i was young and innocent and lucky. after graduating from college, i worked in promiseland full time for 6 years – and those years were some of the most leadership intensive and formative that i’ve ever experienced. i had the privilege of working alongside sue miller, and aaron reynolds, and pat cimo – children’s ministry celebrities with passion and talent that oozed from their core.

and so i was formed and raised in children’s ministry during those years – often observing that the most influential leaders led by speaking at conferences, and writing books, and publishing curriculum – these were the ways to gain credibility and encourage leaders. and for a long time it was the very best way to reach the most amount of people with a most important message.

but times have changed. today, it appears that the most influential voices aren’t always the plenary speakers at big events – more and more, the experts are becoming those with a voice and a unique perspective –  those who blog, and tweet, and facebook and spread the word of their message virally. it’s a new day…as leaders, we’re learning online from each other – instead of at large events. and we’re forming community and building relationships online with people we’ve yet to meet for those days we most need inspiration and encouragement. and we’re feeling empowered to trust our own instincts as we collaborate and work in teams more than we work alone in isolation. and i suspect we’ll only continue in this direction as we influence and encourage and lead each other for the sake of children.

i’m grateful for the children’s ministry leaders who mentored me and led before me – i only want to make them proud by leading strong in my own context.

what do you think? what will the next generation of children’s ministry leaders look like?

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