The earlier you gain influence in a child’s life, the more equipped you are to influence them later—when it matters even more.
That’s one of the best aspects of being a youth leader—you have the incredible opportunity to not only directly impact kids at every stage, but to influence the other influencers in their lives—parents, staff members, and small group leaders.
When it comes to elementary schoolers, quality relationships are vital. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most significant relationships during the elementary school stage.
A specialist stays focused on what a kid needs now. Whether it’s you, another staff member, or a volunteer, you need specialists in each age group. That’s why we believe age-group pastors and directors are so vital to the health of a church’s youth ministry. With a specialist, you have someone who provides focus—which brings momentum and relevance to your ministry.
The generalist owns the vision for where a kid is going. The best ministries are able to focus on specific age groups while also thinking through the overall vision for a kid’s life. Thinking like a generalist keeps your ministry from becoming an island. You’ll also be able to think about the master plan so kids keep moving in the right direction.
Let’s talk a little more about these two roles. As an age-group leader, it’s your responsibility to think from the viewpoint of a specialist and generalist, simultaneously. It’s okay to be better at one than the other. The important thing is to understand the need to take one hat off occasionally and put on the other one. Remember it this way: Some leaders are better at being generalists. Some leaders are better at being specialists. But every leader needs to get better at both.
No, not the World Series winners—but people who put kids first. As Rita Pierson says, “Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”
The key here is to consistently challenge adults that everything that goes on in youth ministry is just as important as what happens in “big church.” Champions get up every morning of every week thinking how they can lead and influence better.
Parents know their kids better than anyone, so they’ll always have an advantage over the church in influence. But church leaders understand issues that most parents don’t—they can help parents realize the general characteristics in every phase of a kid’s growth. With that type of knowledge, parents can consistently adjust their parenting style.
Parenting a preschooler takes a completely different approach than parenting a middle schooler. That’s where the church can step in and equip parents with relational influence at every stage.
The most important thing you can do for a child at any stage is just show up. That looks different at every age, making it so important to challenge leaders to make different commitments at different phases.
The second grade’s leader who shows up every week will make easy connections within a few weeks because children that age will believe anyone. The sixth grade’s leader who shows up to hang out a while will need more time. Sixth graders are skeptics and need proof that someone cares. Either way, being a consistent adult who is there is vital.
As a leader, you’re only as effective as your influence. Look for ways to either influence (parents) or build (specialists and generalists) these types of relationships in the lives of your youth. With that type of leverage, you’ll go far in making a difference in their lives at every stage.
This content was contributed by Phase. Discover all the resources available for your elementary schooler in the Phase store.