As a ministry leader, time seems to fly! It’s hard to believe another year is already wrapping up. They seem to go faster and faster, don’t they? I hope, as you look back on this past year, that you are satisfied with how you led your ministry. Of course, leadership can never be perfected, so I’m sure some of the mistakes and failures immediately come to mind as you think of this year. That’s ok, as long as you learned something for leading better in the future.
And the future is now! The beginning of a new year is always a great time to assess how you’re doing, what you’ve done well (or not so well), and how you’d like to do better in the future.
With that in mind, here are a few ideas – in no particular order – to help you lead better in the coming year.
18 Ways to Be a Better Children’s Ministry Leader in 2018
1. Grow deeper in your walk with God.
My all-time favorite quote is this:
“The impact God has planned for us does not occur when we are pursuing impact. It occurs when we pursue God.” Phil Vischer
It is foolish and arrogant of us to think that we can lead effectively in ministry if we are not first seeking a deeper relationship with the One we serve. Click here for more ideas on how you can grow deeper in your walk with God.
2. Lead your family well.
What happens – or doesn’t happen – at home will greatly impact how you lead your ministry. More importantly, those people at home are a higher priority than those people you lead in the church.
As I have led Children’s & Family Ministries for nearly 30 years, I have always said that if I fail in my home, then I have failed, regardless of what my ministry looks like.
Do not allow yourself to be in a position, 10 or 15 years from now, where you look back and realize you invested more in your ministry than you did in your family. You will regret it.
3. Disciple others.
Ultimately, our ministry is about discipleship. What I have found, however, is that Children’s Ministry Leaders tend to focus more on program than discipleship.
What about you? How is your ministry focused on discipleship of children? How are you helping parents be discipled? Are you providing your volunteers with any spiritual formation opportunities? And what about your own personal commitment to be a discipler – what does that look like?
4. Develop leaders.
The best way to grow your ministry is to develop leaders. Period. Developing leaders is different than equipping volunteers (check out this post to understand the difference).
Not sure how to develop leaders? Here are five ways you can do that in your ministry.
5. Stop recruiting.
Yep, I said it…stop recruiting! Instead, invite them to a really big vision!
6. Build relationship with senior leadership.
Having a good relationship with senior leadership (lead pastor, executive pastor, elders, board, etc.) can literally make or break your ministry. It is critical.
You might feel a little intimidated at asking church leadership to engage with children’s ministry. But church leadership can and should be engaged with children’s ministry. By that I mean they should be informed and invested in what’s going on with a significant part of the church they lead. And they should always have an open invitation to engage in positive ways.
Here are two articles to help you do this:
- 5 Ways to Engage Church Leadership in Children’s Ministry
- 5 Ways The Children’s Ministry Leader Can Connect Well With Church Leadership
7. Go to church.
Most of us don’t attend church because we either haven’t led our ministry to the point where we have leaders who can function and lead without us being present, or we aren’t willing to let them lead.
You might need to read that again and let it sink in. Not attending church, in most cases, speaks more about our leadership than it does about our busy-ness.
If you don’t regularly get in to church services, I would highly encourage you to make that a goal in 2018. Not only will it impact you personally, but it will great impact your leadership. If you’re struggling in this area, read this.
8. Clarify your ministry vision.
“Vision is a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be.” Andy Stanley
Do you have that “clear mental picture”? If not, it’s a great place to start with your ministry. It should always be aligned with the overall vision of the church, be clear and concise, and shared often.
9. Maximize people; minimize program.
Simply put, our ministries are all about people. Kids. Parents. Volunteers. Staff…People!
Yet, too often, we become all about program, and that’s not real ministry. That’s entertainment.
Now, don’t misunderstand…I am NOT saying program is not important. What I am saying is that when our ministry becomes all about great program rather than people, our priorities are out of line. I encourage you to evaluate your ministry and identify how people are priority in the midst of great program.
10. Think right.
The way we think shapes the way we lead. It is so very important to think correctly as a Children’s Ministry Leader. Here are three articles to help you do this:
- 3 Thinking Habits of Great Children’s Ministry Leaders
- Thinking Beyond Your Job Description As A Ministry Leader
- 4 Ways To Think Big But Act Small In Your Children’s Ministry
11. Equip your team to serve.
If we were to define the job of a Children’s Ministry Leader (or any church leader) in one sentence, it would be Ephesians 4:12: “Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”
There are many, many ways:
- Through one-on-one conversations to encourage a team member in a particular area;
- Through evaluation & feedback;
- Through a personal note of encouragement that includes a subtle tip on leading effectively;
- Through formal training sessions;
- Through your monthly newsletter;
- Through attendance at conferences & seminars;
- Through encouraging senior leadership to address your team;
- Through equipping parents to disciple children at home.
How are you equipping your team to do the work of ministry?
12. Engage parents.
Children’s Ministry is Family Ministry and Family Ministry is Children’s Ministry. If we think they are different, we are fooling ourselves. Whether we act like it or not, the greatest spiritual influence on a child is their parent (for good or bad or somewhere in-between). If that is true, then why do so many of us try and lead ministry where we don’t even try to engage parents?
It makes no sense.
13. Walk slowly through the crowd.
Want to connect better with the people you lead? Do this one thing and see how much it changes your leadership.
14. Create a culture that people want to be part of.
What does the culture of your ministry look like? Is it a place where people want to be? Is it a place where words such as “energy”, “encouragement” and “excitement” can be used to describe it? Is it a safe place? Does it promote a team mentality? Is it a place where leadership is expected, and where leaders feel comfortable?
As you lead, you are creating culture, whether you are doing it intentionally, or not. Many of us have never really thought about the culture we are creating, but it plays a huge part in shaping your ministry now and in the future. Here are a couple of articles that might help you think through this a little more:
- How To Create A Winning Team Culture In Children’s Ministry
- 10 Ways to Create a Culture of Leadership In Your Children’s Ministry
15. Be a learner.
You can only lead people to the place that you yourself have gone. And your ministry will only rise to the level that you and your leadership can take it. So growing yourself is critical if you expect your ministry to continue to grow.
Now would be a great time to create your own personal growth plan for 2018.
16. Solve problems.
This might seem like an odd item to add to this list, but I have found that being a problem-solver can be one of my most important “tasks” as a leader. It helps to establish my leadership with both that that I lead and those that I follow. It helps me move my ministry forward instead of letting it stagnate. And it helps me practice leadership in difficult circumstances.
So don’t procrastinate on dealing with problems. Don’t pretend they don’t exist. And don’t push them off to others. Solve them.
17. Have fun.
Leading a Children’s and/or Family Ministry is one of the greatest privileges I can think of. It’s also one of the most difficult leadership roles in the church. At the same time that it offers great personal rewards, it can be frustrating and discouraging. One of the ways that I have found to both enjoy the good and deal with the bad is to find ways to have fun. And the reality is, it’s really not that hard to find ways to have fun. After all, our ministry is to children, right? How hard is it to find ways to have fun with kids? And the people we serve with…it doesn’t usually take too long to find a laugh or two while we serve together.
In the midst of the challenges, the lack of budget, the volunteers that leave and the hours you put in beyond what your paid for…have fun! And if you’re not having fun, you’re probably not going to lead well for the long term.
18. Start well.
So here we are, at the beginning of the New Year. I’m not big on resolutions, but I do recognize opportunities for new beginnings. This is one of those opportunities.
Leading in Children’s and Family Ministry can be hard (although, really, it’s not that hard), so we must be intentional. You have an opportunity, as you lead your ministry, to be intentional in how you start the year. You have an opportunity to set the tone for yourself, your family, the kids, parents, volunteers and staff that you lead, and with the leadership of your church.
Don’t leave it to chance. Be intentional. Start well and lead well in 2018.
Happy New Year!
What would you add to lead well in 2018?
(please share in comments below)