So, you’re new to Children’s Ministry. You are excited and eager to “hit the ground running”. You have grand visions of changing the world. You’ve read every Jim Wideman, Kenny Conley, Gina McClain and Dale Hudson blog post and book you could get your hands on. Your journal is filled with creative ideas and projects that you can’t wait to implement. The days are magical and the possibilities seem endless.
And then it happens.
Somebody needs something desperately that isn’t in the budget.
A key volunteer quits.
Someone is upset with you.
Your to-do list is longer than the hours in your week.
You barely remember what the inside of your house looks like.
Slowly, you get consumed by glue sticks and goldfish and techno remixes of children’s Sunday school classics.
We’ve all been there. That dreaded place where the new is starting to wear off and your tool box of ideas is getting empty. Wouldn’t it be great if ministry was a science and there was some sort of master check list you could follow to get it perfect every time? Until that surfaces, I’ll offer these 5 things that I wish I knew those first few years in Children’s Ministry. It’s not a check list and everybody’s context is different, but they are just a few things that would have made my life a little easier if I had known them sooner.
Get a Mentor.
Find someone in your area that has been in the game longer than you have and ask them if you can have lunch with them once a quarter and pick their brain about all things children’s ministry. Listen to them, be inspired by them, ask them challenging questions, and learn from their experiences. They can be a great resource in both easy and tough seasons of ministry.
Give and Take.
Ministry is not a 9-5 job. We work with people so life happens and things will take you away at all hours of the day and night. Do your job well, but don’t do it at the expense of your own family. If you get Fridays off, do you very best to keep Fridays sacred for you and your family. If you have to work on a Friday, talk to you supervisor about taking another day off that week instead. Keep yourself spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthy and don’t lose sight of life’s important things.
Get a Vision.
Your ministry needs a vision. Preferably one that is in line with your overall church’s vision. People will only join your team to fill holes and bridge gaps for so long. They want to be a part of something that has that has a purpose and makes a difference.
Hang out with Your Volunteers.
This is along the lines of the previous point. Not only do people want to be part of something that has a purpose, they also want to belong. Get to know them. Take your key leaders out for coffee or have them over to your house for dinner. Provide opportunities for your volunteer groups to have fun and hang out together outside of the church.
Change Your Perspective.
It’s easy to come into a new place and see all the things that are wrong with it. And even if you don’t see them, people will be quick to tell you all about the little quirks in the ministry that they wish you would change. A simple shift in perspective might be all that you need to help get you and your team pointed in the right direction. For example, your church might have a weekday preschool and the space sharing issues seem out of control. Instead of fussing about or blaming them, see them as a place where many new families enter your system each year and are eager for you to speak into their lives. What an incredible opportunity that would be.
Again, there is no magic formula. If you’re just starting out in Children’s Ministry, keep up the good work. My prayers are with you.
What do you wish you knew when you started in Children’s Ministry?
(Please comment below)