What threatens growth in your ministry? Like a summer
garden, you need to clear out the "weeds" and "pests" if you want
your children's ministry to grow...
"Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?"
Ever wondered why Mary is so contrary? Maybe it's because she
battles threatening weeds and pests so her silver bells, cockle
shells and pretty maids will grow in a row.
Like Mary, you need to cut down "weeds" and terminate "pests" if
you want your children's ministry to grow. But unlike contrary
Mary, weeding out these 10 threats to your program will yield joy.
As with any task, you will need help to get the job done. Be sure
to provide volunteer training in these problem solving tasks to
make sure that everyone is focused on the same goal.
1. Lack of communication -- If people don't
know what's happening in your ministry they assume nothing of
consequence is happening. Refuse to communicate, and your
children's ministry will never be a priority to the church and
community. People vital to your ministry need to know what's going
on in order to support the work. If they don't know about it, they
can't support it.
Talk about your ministry with your pastor, other staff members,
children's ministry leadership team, volunteers, parents, the
community and children. Promote your ministry in church
publications, community advertising, and best yet, word of mouth
from satisfied participants.
2. Not valuing children -- Don't be guilty of
loving your ministry but not loving your children. If you don't
value your children, neither will your church. And if children are
treated as second-class citizens in your church, your children's
ministry will suffer. Your ministry won't receive the space,
staffing and budgeting other groups receive.
Validate children as individuals of worth -- just as Jesus did.
Let your children and church know how much you value kids. For
example, do you get at eye level to talk to kids or do you tower
over them? Do you call children "rug rats" or other subtly
3. Run-down children's space -- Art Murphy, a
children's minister in Florida, says that cluttered, run-down
children's facilities communicate that little is happening there
for children. He says, "A clean, bright, roomy facility cleared of
old materials or unused furniture communicates that children are
loved, wanted and expected."
Walk through your children's space twice. Evaluate it from an
adult's viewpoint, then from a child's perspective. List needs and
4. Lone-ranger mentality -- If you do it all
your way and all by yourself, you not only risk ruining your
children's ministry. You may also ruin yourself.
In Ephesians 4:12, Paul told leaders "to prepare
God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may
be built up." When you've trained and staffed your ministry, it'll
go on reaching children for Christ even when you're gone.
Multiply your ministry by recruiting willing volunteers to
shoulder the work with you.
5. No family ministry -- The primary shapers of
a child's development are parents and immediate family. Teaching or
caring for children one or two hours a week at church is helpful,
but the greatest good happens when you take ministry directly to
the whole family. You may be surprised at the needs you'll see when
you look at a family through a child's eyes.
Develop ministries to reach the entire family, such as home
visitation, parent-training courses or family-crisis
6. Lack of volunteer training -- You know
volunteers who have outstanding gifts and a real aptitude for
children's ministry. But even "natural-born" workers benefit from
training and encouragement. Plan training events, provide written
resources for individual study and send your volunteers to
children's ministry conferences.
Develop regular or ongoing leadership-training so volunteers can
update their skills.
7. Competing with media for children's
attention -- There's a temptation in our media-saturated
world to spend lots of money on state-of-the-art equipment and
technology. You may want to leave your children amazed and dazzled
with mind-boggling programming and events.
Don't give in to the temptation. Art Murphy ministers in the
shadows of the world's best high-tech theme parks in Orlando. But
he doesn't advocate eye-popping programming. He says the best
programs are simply "noisy gongs and clanging cymbals" unless they
communicate love. Art challenges his children's volunteers to make
Bible study and other programs real instead of "Disney-like."
Your kids remember special effects only until they see a better
effect. They'll remember truth shared in love for a lifetime.
Helping children apply and understand one biblical principle is
better than knocking their socks off with technological
Strive for genuineness and transparency in leading events and
Bible studies. Embody Jesus' message of love by lovingly teaching
8. Isolating children's ministry from the
church -- Children's ministry can become a "satellite"
ministry, spinning on its own axis and following its own orbit. If
this happens, your program may not embrace your church's goals and
philosophy. And it'll suffer from a lack of intergenerational
contact with church members. Meanwhile, your kids will miss out on
Christ's larger purpose for the church in the world.
Write a purpose for children's ministry and describe how it
relates to the total church.
9. Ingratitude -- Everyone wants to feel needed
and valued. You do. And so do the people who help make your
ministry possible. We'll go the second mile for someone who
Review the past month of your personal calendar for names of
people who've assisted, encouraged or served in your children's
ministry. Write simple, heart-felt thank-you notes. You'll reap
what you sow.
10. Neglect -- The most dangerous threat to any
ministry is "neglect." If you don't weed out problem areas, your
ministry will wither away. Fight neglect in ministry by constantly
evaluating your children's ministry. Rejoice in your successes and
learn from your mistakes to keep neglect at bay.
Slip this list into the first page of your personal calendar.
Each month, weed out any threats to your ministry's success.
Walter Norvell is a children's minister in Tennessee. Please
keep in mind that phone numbers, addresses, and prices are subject