After half a century of attending church and half of that leading, I've concluded that the most important and overlooked ministry is the identification and development of leaders before the age of 14. God has strategically placed people who work with children and middle schoolers as catalysts for changing history. The problem is that we're consumed with broader tasks and have little vision or training for this specific opportunity. A major reason for this is that our culture perceives leading as an adult activity. We thereby miss a critical window for leadership training.
In the following do's and don'ts, you'll learn how to avoid thwarting young leaders, and you'll also discover practical ways to develop them in a local congregation, regardless of size. (For the purpose of this article, I've defined leadership as the way God organizes his people to use their individual gifts for common goals. Leaders provide a uniting vision and a motivating cause that's bigger than themselves.)