As your church’s Pioneer Clubs coordinator, you have the responsibility of planning your club ministry. This includes organizing all the club details (check!), getting kids involved (check!), recruiting volunteers (check!) and effectively training your volunteers (huh?!).
“Wait a second,” you say. “I just went through the hard work of recruiting volunteers. Can’t I just tell them to read the introduction in the planbook and send them on their merry way? I mean, it’s October and we’ve already started club!”
Perhaps, but what is your church’s discipline policy, safety policy and procedure for ordering supplies? How can leaders communicate issues or problems to you? And what’s the best way to lead the parts of a meeting? There are a lot of questions that can arise without proper training!
Plus, training helps with recruitment. Volunteers who feel adequately trained are more likely to sign on for another year, which reduces the number of new volunteers for next year. Training sends the message, “We value you!”
Set up a training schedule. Make sure your training schedule works with your leaders and church. Some coordinators prefer to take one long Saturday to train leaders. Others like to plan a short session before or after club for several weeks. Some coordinators prefer to schedule training annually, quarterly or simply as needed. Whatever works for your club, be sure to get it on your leaders’ calendar.
Select topics. Decide what topics you need to cover and how you will cover them. Pioneer Clubs offers great tools and resources at www.pioneerclubs.org to get you started. But in general, leaders express a desire to know more about effective discipline, how to lead children to Christ, understanding age characteristics and learning styles, and how to teach from the curriculum more effectively. It’s also a good idea to cover the practical aspects of being a club leader—where supplies can be found, safety policies, field trip guidelines, communicating with parents, and so on.
Begin in God’s Word. For the beginning of your training meeting, prepare a short devotional based on the Pioneer Clubs theme verse, Psalm 119:105. Or for DELTA clubs, use the program’s verse, Luke 10:27, on the back of the kids handbooks. For information about the Pioneer Clubs logo or the DELTA logo and corresponding verses, look at the introduction in the planbooks or handbooks.
Give an overview of the program. Continue your training session with introductions. Be sure everyone has a nametag. Give leaders an overview of your program. Answer the questions of why children need club and the purpose and goals of Pioneer Clubs. Go over the parts of the meeting and compare against the kids handbooks so that leaders can understand how they correspond. Discuss the skill and game awards that you will be doing for the year. Answer questions and ask for ideas of individuals who could lead certain awards (for example, a church member who’s a police officer could lead the Safety award).
Have a mock club meeting. Conduct a meeting from the leader planbook(s) your church is using. Follow the plans just as they are written. Run through some of the requirements for the skill award or games award and have all your leaders participate. If you are short on time, at least cover the Bible Exploration and Bible Memory sections. Have leaders play the role of club members and actually do the handbook exercises. (You may reproduce the handbook Bible award pages for this training exercise.)
Allow time to meet by age-groups. Near the end of the training session, allow leaders to meet by age-groups and map out a club unit. Give them copies of the Pioneer Clubs Meeting Plan Worksheet (see How to Run & Promote a Successful Pioneer Clubs Program) and your club year calendar. Hand out lists of potential club members and suggest they divide the names and pray for them throughout the week. Have them discuss who’s responsible for each part of the club meeting.
Have fun! Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of ensuring your leaders enjoy themselves when they’re together. Find creative ways of introducing a little fun into your training session. Arrange for leaders to win small prizes (candy bars, Pioneer Clubs pencils*, wrist bands*, coffee travel mugs*, T-shirts*, etc.) for answering a question correctly, knowing the club verse or offering the most creative idea. Introduce some humor into the presentations and be sure to serve refreshments.
It’s also a good idea to get feedback after the session so that you can improve your training for next time. Have an evaluation form available for leaders to fill out and return.
With planning and creativity, your training session will reap rewards in prepared and positive leaders.
*Order at Pioneer Clubs Online Shop.