Your Ministry’s Farm System: School Days
In schools, there are some teacher-student relationships (can you say Paul and Timothy?) that result in teens feeling welcome and returning after college. What similar relationships are forged in your ministry?
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Close scrutiny of your local school system may reveal similar structural parallels to baseball’s farm system and New Testament discipling.
In academia, you’ll see older teachers schooling students who, in return, come back and serve as student teachers, staff colleagues, or even administrative bosses of their former mentors. It’s not unusual to find districts with teaching personnel who grew up in the community and only left to attend college and the returned to serve.
Sometimes because of the personal relationship established with older adults. How were they prepared? Classwork, certainly, but also by things beyond the classroom.
The extracurricular structure encourages use of their unique individual gifts. Although personality cliques naturally occur, the system is in place for students of assorted backgrounds to find their niche among programs, such as music, sports, technology, or academic clubs.
How those then-students often first become interested in a desired niche, is during their middle school (sixth-eighth grade) and high school years. They’re called feeder schools. Local districts are intentional in sending counselors, teachers, coaches, administrators, focused on interacting with younger students to encourage them to get involved, and use their gifts in specific programs.
Often, if a program does not exist, the door is created for a teacher sponsor to be approached, and a process of creating such an outreach is introduced. Such teacher-student relationships (can you say Paul and Timothy?) often resulted in teens feeling welcome and returning after college.
What similar relationships are forged in your ministry?
Do you have “feeder ministries” teaching children and teens how to serve in “big church,” or do you wait until they are “of age?”
Are your students’ extracurricular, school-nurtured gifts employed to fill your ministry needs? What Biblical examples come to mind of employing assorted gifts for the greater goal?
Whether in baseball or schools, there are times when specific roles must be filled. The same holds true for churches.
Unfortunately, in church ministry, these specific roles can wind up in limited hands. They may be assigned to current personnel who have some interest, they’re taken by some volunteers with limited skills, but a passionate heart; embraced by a zealous, but controlling leader; or filled by talented, reliable workers who are so efficient they are perhaps inflexible and uncertain how to embrace new voices.
Consequently, in any of the above situations, the ministry may become stagnant, ineffective, fade away, or one dimensional. As if all the pitchers were right-handed, all the teachers were math teachers, or all students were from the same household. Paul warned the Corinthians about this – are all the same?
The antidote is intentional recruiting. In baseball, intentional recruiting can take on the form of free agency, where a player shops themselves to the highest bidder, or just wants a job. Or where owners make overtures to the players they deem have the most potential to benefit their teams.
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