This week, my friend Terry is starting his new ministry placement as a full time children’s pastor. I’m excited to see the work God will do, both in that church and in Terry’s life. Here are some practical tips I would offer to any new children’s minister.
1. Set aside a daily prayer time.
This should be in addition to your quite time. I recommend at least 15 minute of concentrated prayer every workday. This should allow you to pray for every aspect of the ministry throughout the week.
2. Build influence through relationships, not position.
This can be hard, especially when you’re new at the church. Volunteers will serve willingly for a friend, but only out of duty for a boss. Relationships are the key to a shared ministry that empowers church members to really serve.
3. Organize your tasks and work for efficiency.
Write out all your weekly responsibilities. Then make a checklist for each of these programs (or roles). Use these lists to complete your work as efficiently as you can. Look for ways to delegate, simplify, or eliminate some tasks. The better you become at “getting things done” the more time you have for spending time with people.
4. Don’t make major changes.
Even if people like you, it will take time for them to trust your leadership. So, total ministry makeovers should be off the table. An immediate shake up of the church’s programs will only make trouble. Take time to learn the people and what ministries need to be improved first. Find out which volunteers feel ownership, make sure they’re on board before you mess with their ministry.
5. Always remember that your job is about people, not programs.
I keep my door open, even when it hurts productivity. This is because I am willing to be interrupted, in fact I want people to know they are more important than any one task I’m doing. Besides, if you work from a checklist, it is easy to pick up where you left off. The exception is my prayer time, but I typically do this is a secret location.
6. Never let bitterness take root, not even for one day.
People will begin to let you down immediately. This is always true. Sometimes it will be volunteers, sometimes it will be your favorite kids, and sometimes it will be the other church staff. Don’t let your hurt feelings become a bitterness – even a little can kill the ministry and lead to burnout.
7. Honor your pastor, even if you think he’s wrong.
I’m talking about ministry decisions not moral issues. Yes, this will happen too and some well meaning church member will be more than willing to share in the gossip with you. Don’t let it happen, not even with your must-trusted volunteers (and spouse).
8. Over communicate.
It always amazes me that it takes so many repeats to get a message across. Say things, then send a email, then put it in the bulletin, and then say it again with a phone call. Remember: you haven’t communicated until they can say the message correctly to someone else.
What do you think?
If you’re a children’s ministry leader (paid or volunteer), I would like to hear form you. What advice would you add? Did I cover all the basics? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.