Last year in Children’s Ministry Magazine, we published an article all about what ministry leaders believe are some of the biggest time wasters. The truth is, there are some things in ministry that are just never going to work, no matter how much effort, money, or time you throw at them. Below are excerpts from that article, along with an extra time sucker from me to watch out for.
Time Waster #1: Establishing a Philosophy of Children’s Ministry
Your philosophy of children’s ministry doesn’t matter IF relationships aren’t central to that philosophy. Ministry always happens best in the context of relationships. Period. If the effort you give, the time you spend, and the money you invest don’t make relationships central to your philosophy, then the connections you desire and the impact you seek will be minimal—at best.
Jesus said the two most important things we can do are love God and love others. That’s all about relationship. Build your philosophy of children’s ministry around relationship, and you’ll have an outstanding foundation to grow from—whether you have a philosophy or not.
Time Waster #2: Ministry Websites
Don’t only get caught up in how your website looks and feels; worry as much about what it inspires outside of your site. Is your website reaching people you haven’t been able to reach? Is it enabling easier spread of information and relationship building? If the answer is yes, then you’ve spent the right amount of time, money, and effort on what you’re creating.
Time Waster #3: Video-Based Programming
No matter how much effort, money, or time you invest in a great video-based program, it won’t be worth it if your kids don’t connect with a person who loves them, knows them by name, takes a personal interest in where they are in the spiritual journey, and guides them forward through relationship. Disciples are made by other disciples—not by watching a video. So use videos strategically and sparingly, and ensure you give every child a real person to relate to after the video clip ends.
Time Waster #4: Recruiting the Masses
No matter how much effort, money, or time you throw at a great recruiting call, it won’t be worth it if you don’t have a clear, strategic “onboarding” process in place from the outset. It’s vital that you have steps for people to take when they first show interest in joining your team.
Once you’ve made the call, no matter how you choose to do it, you’ve got to have next steps clearly outlined and followed. Your next steps should include an application, a personality and spiritual-gifts test, a volunteer job description, a personal interview, a background check, and orientation.
Time Waster #5: Planning for Every Detail
Danielle Bell served at a Tennessee church for more than 15 years and now serves as the minister to children at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. She’s the Inside Track Team leader for Group’s KidMin Conference. Here’s her time wasting story:
Good planning brings kids and families. Good planning helps families connect more to your ministry. Good planning is a big function of your ministry throughout the year, and it takes your time, effort, and even resources.
But—no matter how much time you dedicate to planning every detail for your children’s ministry families, you won’t have success if you don’t get out of the way and let God do his thing. That’s because God is bigger than our plans.
I just experienced this last winter. There’s an event I do every year with my preteens to help them grow closer as a group and to God. This event has been effective many times in the past, and although I make tweaks for each new group, the majority of the activities stay the same. This night, the event was running smoothly and everything was going as meticulously planned. But just at the end, as we ran out of time, the kids asked to do the prayer activity differently than I’d explained.
I hesitated. It didn’t follow the plan. But how do you tell kids they can’t pray when they ask? I felt a gentle nudge from God to let go and let him take control over this time, even though I wasn’t sure where this adventure would take us. Wow—was I blown away. After a night filled with details and planning, it was when I surrendered my control that I saw God work the most. As one of my volunteers said, “We had church.”
So as one who likes to create, plan, and all too often control, I have to remind myself to give the plan to God. I need to step out of the way, give God control, and watch our mighty God work in his perfect way.
Time Waster #6: Decorating
No matter how much effort, money, or time you put into decorating for your children’s ministry, it won’t be worth it if your environments aren’t safe, because safety and security are priceless. This includes maintaining great traffic flow inside hallways while properly controlling entrances and exits. Way-finding signs help new people find their way in your environments easily. It’s absolutely necessary to invest effort, money, and time in decorating your children’s ministry spaces, but be wise with those investments. Keep kids’ safety and security at the top of your priority list, and let it guide every decision you make.
And I will add a seventh time waster here: curriculum writing.
If you haven’t read it yet, check out my previous blog on the benefits of choosing published curriculum.
You didn’t jump head first into ministry because you love to-do lists and making phone calls. God called you to something much bigger. Making Jesus R.E.A.L. to kids is the most important thing you can do. That’s why Group’s Sunday School Team has taken care of all the other stuff on your weekly to-do list. So you can focus on relationships, families, and Jesus.
With Group you get more than just Sunday school. You get an entire team, and time-saving tools, devoted to helping you get out from behind your desk and back to your ministry.
For more information, check out Group’s Sunday School Curriculum.
What things do you find to be time suckers in your ministry? Share with us using the comment section below!