In this post I want to introduce you to Jeff Goodyear (church bio | Twitter). He is the children’s pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. I first met Jeff in a class at Southern Seminary. Since then, we has become friends and I consider him a long-distance mentor for my ministry. I am excited for Jeff to share some of his experience through this interview.
Tony Kummer: How did you become the Children’s Pastor at Highview?
Jeff Goodyear: Its always interesting for me to hear how God has worked in different people’s lives to bring them into children’s ministry. My story is not unique, but it is a little unusual. I was working in business, I was an engineer and was working in a great job, but I really loved what I was doing as a volunteer at church working with kids and the adults who served with them.
One day my pastor, and friend, Kevin Ezell asked me “Have you ever though about quitting your job and doing children’s ministry full time?” To make a long story short, within a year I made that transition and became the children’s pastor at Highview.
That was 10 years ago. I’ve gone back to school since then and earned my seminary degree, but I look back now and I’m so thankful that God brought me here. People often ask me if I miss my former life, my answer is always the same – I can’t imagine ever going back. I often tell some of my fellow staff members that we should be thankful because a lot of people had to get up this morning and go to work, but we get to come to church and do what we love.
Tony Kummer: What are some blessings of leading Children’s Ministry in a large, multi-site church?
Jeff Goodyear: Definitely the people I get to work with, our staff, the families, and the kids. It is neat to get to work with so many different people. I’m blessed to work with a children’s ministry staff team of about 12 people.
One of the biggest advantages is the way our staff team works together. For example, we have our VBS this week and next, at 2 campuses each week. Each member of our children’s ministry staff will work at their own campus’s VBS, and help at one of the other campuses on the other week.
We are also able to divide and share some of the responsibilities, for example, one member of our team is the leader for our VBS planning for all of our campuses, another member of our team is the leader for our Kids’ Camp for all campuses, etc.
Tony Kummer: . . . and what are some unique challenges?
Jeff Goodyear: There are some challenges, usually related to trying to be in more than one place at a time. It is hard to not be able to be everywhere on Sunday mornings. I really have to trust my team to make sure that everything is done well.
It is also hard to decide what to do where. If something works great at one campus, it won’t necessarily work well at another. We use at least 4 different curriculum sources for our elementary children because of different campus set-ups and different group sizes.
Tony Kummer: What keeps you motivated in the ministry?
Jeff Goodyear: I think I’m probably like most children’s pastors. It’s seeing kids grow, especially seeing kids come to know Jesus as their savior. Having kids come up on Sunday and give me a hug or thank me for the birthday letter I sent them this week.
The difference with being in a larger church is that I don’t know every kid’s name, but I try to learn them. I often have parents come up to me and say that their kids loved something we did, or that they can’t wait until next year, or something like that. It means a lot to me when parents seek me out, because I know that we have really made an impact on their children and their family when that happens.
Tony Kummer: How is your time spent in a typical work week?
Jeff Goodyear: I have a lot of meetings. I start each week with 4 staff meetings on Mondays. (Pastoral staff, All staff, Campus specific staff meetings, Children’s Ministry Staff Team meeting) By Monday afternoon, I’m worn out and have a big to-do list. I spend a lot of time the rest of the week meeting with members of my staff team and a few key volunteers about specific issues in their area of ministry.
I love to meet with kids and their parents when they express a desire to become a Christian, or to be baptized. I also am blessed to be able to teach one children’s ministry class at Boyce College each semester. At Highview, our pastors take turns visiting all our members in the hospital, I spend one day every other week making hospital visits.
I like my hospital days because it allows me to get out of the office and minister to people that I usually don’t get to work with. I’m always reminded how blessed I am to be a pastor after a day of visiting church members in the hospital.
Tony Kummer: What is the most surprising things you’ve learned so far in your ministry?
Jeff Goodyear: I’m surprised at how much fun it has been to be in this ministry for so long. I know that 9 years is not long to some, but the time really has flown by and if you would have asked me when I started, I think I would have thought that the joy would have worn off long before now and I’d be looking at my ministry as just another job… but it really hasn’t. I still love getting up every day and coming to work, I hope I am able to do this for many years to come.
Tony Kummer: What encouragement would you give to someone serving in a smaller church?
Jeff Goodyear: The heart of Children’s ministry is the same no matter what size church you are in. I firmly believe that the job of any children’s minister is to recruit, train, equip, and encourage a team of volunteers to do the hands on ministry with kids.
I’ve known children’s ministers from smaller churches that would say things like “If I were in a larger church, I wouldn’t have as much trouble recruiting teachers”, I’ve also been with children’s ministers from larger churches who said “If I were only in a smaller church, I wouldn’t have so much problem recruiting teachers.”
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what size your church is, the challenges are the same. Larger churches do have more resources (people and stuff) but they also have more challenges.
Tony Kummer: What advice would you give someone just starting out in children’s ministry?
Jeff Goodyear: This is the perfect time to enter the field of vocational children’s ministry. I am excited to see a trend of more churches looking for full-time children’s pastors.
I have had the privilege of leading several young men and women who served with me at Highview while they attended seminary and it’s always exciting for me to see them graduate and leave Louisville to take a children’s ministry job. I’m amazed at how quickly some of them are able to find great jobs. The truth is that today more churches contact me looking for recommendations for children’s ministers than I have candidates to recommend.
Tony Kummer: What aspects of Children’s Ministry do you think will change over the next 10 years?
Jeff Goodyear: I’ve only been in full time ministry for 10 years, but one trend I’ve seen is an increase in the number of kids being raised by their grandparents. I know that we have seen a lot of changes in family makeup over the decades, but I believe that this is a trend we will see more of in the future.
I think another trend in many of our churches over the next decade will be a mover toward “family ministry” this means many different things to different people, but the bottom line, I think, for children’s’ ministers is that your church may be looking for something different than the children’s ministry of the past … be ready.
I also think that as some churches look for Family Pastors, this will be a great opportunity for children’s ministers who are ready for a new challenge. We will be the ones with the experience and training to be able to best help parents be the disciplers of their children.
I really appreciate Pastor Jeff’s desire to encourage other’s who serve in children’s ministry. Please leave any feedback in the comment section below.