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Alignment Assignment

Larry Shallenberger

If your ministry doesn't line up with Big Church, you're going to hit some big potholes along the way...

Do you feel as though your church is going in a direction that interferes with your children's ministry goals? Perhaps it's your ministry that's actually out of alignment.

Are you willing to do what it takes to correct these issues? This five-point diagnostic guide will help you keep your ministry pointed in the right direction.

1. Check for Mission Drift

Your children's ministry's mission needs to complement your church's mission. A mission statement explains "why" your congregation decided to do church together.

Set your ministry's mission statement next to your church's mission statement. Look at the wording of your church's mission statement. Is your mission statement worded in a way that would help a prospective volunteer understand that your ministry exists to support what your church at large is about?

To ensure that your mission statement is closely aligned with your church's, consider borrowing usable words and phrases from your church's mission statement. If your church calls a disciple, a "fully devoted follower of Christ," then write about wanting to "grow children into fully devoted followers of Christ" or "equipping parents to raise fully devoted followers of Christ."

If your church doesn't have a mission statement, show your children's ministry mission statement to your senior pastor for review. Let your pastor know that you want to create a children's ministry that supports the efforts of the Big Church. Follow up by asking if the mission statement needs the approval of any governing bodies before you unroll it to all your volunteers.

If your church has a mission statement and your ministry doesn't, then form one with your team that supports the efforts of the whole church. As you train your volunteers in your mission statement, highlight how your ministry's mission contributes to your church's aims. Your volunteers will be energized when they realize they're joining a movement much bigger than themselves.

2. Diagnose Common Core Values

Core values describe how a ministry goes about its business. For example, a church with a core value of "creativity" will emphasize programs such as drama and music in its worship service. An enforced core value of "excellence" should result in staff and volunteers who crisply execute their roles.

Approach your senior leadership to see what core values your church has adopted. Take these core values to your children's ministry team and discuss what your ministry would look like if these values were the

most important qualities that your ministry pursued. Evaluate what types of training you'd need to equip your team to embody these values.

If your church hasn't developed an articulate set of core values, don't fret! Your church does have core values; it just hasn't identified them yet. To find your church's core values, interview a large segment of your congregation with these two questions: "What attracted you to our church?" and "Why do you keep coming back?" You'll quickly identify four or five qualities that define your congregation. Your job is to make sure these qualities define your ministry as well.

Don't be afraid to have a few extra core values that define how your children's ministry should be done. Children's ministry generally pays more attention to educational and developmental concerns in children.

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