What makes a successful children’s ministry click? What
makes it run smoothly and effortlessly? How can you get deeper
commitment from your volunteers?
If you’ve been searching for a way to unify your ministry team,
core values may be your solution. In this interview with Dennis
Bloodworth, you’ll learn how to develop core values that’ll help
volunteers commit to your ministry.
Many churches have successful ministries with volunteers who
thrive when the ministry has specific priorities or core values.
Former children’s pastor Dennis Bloodworth says that core values
can unify people and create a purpose-oriented ministry. Dennis,
who’s now the lead pastor at Christ’s Church of Scottsdale in
Scottsdale, Arizona, can help give your ministry the direction it
needs to create unity and purpose.
Q: What are core values?
A: They’re a set of priorities that govern
everything that happens in our ministry. Everything that we do —
every event, program, or retreat — will somehow address these
For example, our church values commitment to excellence. That
means if I teach a class at an off-site retreat center, I’ll do the
best I can with what I have in that setting. Or if I’m leading a
group on a trip, I make sure all of our vehicles are full of gas
and ready to go, that drivers have keys and maps, and that
everybody has medical forms. Our commitment to excellence means
that we’ll be professional, pay attention to details, and do the
best we can with what we have.
Q: Why are core values important to an effective
A: Core values determine how you do everything.
They keep a team unified because everyone knows the priorities.
Whether a person’s job is greeting kids at the door or working with
children in small groups, the values guide each person in his or
her specific responsibilities. Instead of having a bunch of
individuals doing things their own way, you have a team of
committed people who are united with one purpose. It makes for a
much better, purpose-oriented ministry.
Q: How have you seen core values positively impact an
organization or ministry?
A: When I was at Christ’s Church of the Valley
in Peoria, Arizona, the church was growing slowly and had 850
people when I first came on staff. Then while attending a
conference in California, the staff and elders worked to determine
the church’s core values. From that day on, we saw immediate
results throughout the church because suddenly we all knew the
parts we played on the team. Today the church is over 5,000.
The one common denominator was our values. Regardless of the
people’s ages or the tasks of their ministries, the values were
always the same. Our church saw immediate results, and that enabled
us to experience unlimited growth. Once we had clarified and
determined our values, we saw amazing results.
The key to values is that they’re based on Scripture. I don’t
think values mean anything unless they come from God. God blesses
people who labor with purpose, meaning, clarity, and direction. The
sky’s the limit.
Q: What are the steps a leader should take in developing
A: I think you have to look at your culture. We
spent serious time in prayer and in God’s Word trying to determine
Jesus’ core values — what mattered most to him and what he
commanded the early church to do. We tried to make our values easy
to remember and came up with a list of five things that were clear
and specific. Our core values are integrity, commitment to excellence, a heart for evangelism, relationships, and a servant’s attitude.
Churches are different, but I think if you were to look across the
board, you’d find six to 10 similar values.
Q: Are there any cautions along the way?
A: Don’t have core values just to have core
values. Don’t think that just because you have a list on a piece of
paper, you’re going to see immediate results. Values are not just
taught; they’re lived and practiced. However, you could do more
damage by publishing your core values and then not living up to
them. If you aren’t going to follow them, you’d be better off not
even having them.
Q: How do you get people on board with your
A: I don’t think it’s hard when your values
come from God. Your core values affect the people who aspire to be
leaders in the church. We get people on board just by making them
aware that we value what Jesus values. Because we strive to be like
Christ, we try to imitate him. When people know that your values
come from Scripture, they start to take hold of them and see their
Q: You’ve developed a volunteer commitment based on the
core values. How easy or difficult is it to get volunteers to sign
such a commitment?
A: Excitement is always the #1 recruiter. I
think that those who are excited are willing to have a standard by
which to do what God has called them to do. We have Scriptures that
we ask volunteers to look at. Those Scriptures address a
Christian’s personal choices. I won’t ever tell volunteers not to
go to R-rated movies, but I do tell them that they’re called to a
The volunteer commitment has helped recruiting because
volunteers also know that they’re a step above. They’re part of an
elite bunch. Volunteering isn’t something that everybody can do,
but when people are ready for it, they know that we expect a lot
from our leaders.
Q: What makes the process of committing to the core
values easy or difficult?
A: It’s easy because we emphasize teamwork. We
tell volunteers that they’re going to be pouring themselves into
these kids, but at the same time, we’re going to be pouring
ourselves into them. Volunteers step up and commit, but they’re
going to get special care and attention from leaders.
What makes our commitment difficult is that not everyone is
ready for such a commitment. I have to remind people that they’re
in ministry and they’re setting an example. I want them to look at
Scripture and evaluate their lives. Are there things that could
cause others to stumble? Can they put those things aside while
they’re volunteering? Some people aren’t ready for that.
Q: What else would you say to leaders who want to
develop core values?
A: If you’re going to list it, live it. It has
to be apparent. I’ve never known a system to fail when values drive
what a church is doing.
You also have to evaluate every element in your program and
every person on your team and honestly say, “Do we really have
these values or not?” Bring in outside observers, give them your
values, and ask them, “Can you see these things in our people? Can
you see these things in our programs?” As much as you might like to
think you’ve got excellence or a heart for evangelism, sometimes
other people don’t see what you see. Values need to be under
constant evaluation. It has to be obvious that your values drive
everything your ministry does.
I think core values are the most powerful tools I’ve ever seen
in church growth and programming. When all those cylinders are
firing and your ministry is obviously led by God, nothing can stop
the church. Jesus instilled values in his disciples and sent them
out, and he was a master at identifying what’s most important. Why
should the church do anything less?
Erica Fast is a former intern for Children’s Ministry
Our Children’s Ministry Dream
We dream of changing our world — one child at a time. We dream
We dream of volunteers so excited about kids that they teach,
We dream of a clean, kid- friendly place where thousands of
We dream of babies sleeping peacefully, nursing moms enjoying
We dream of prayerful adults leading children to Jesus. We dream
We dream of changing our world by building a foundation of faith
Three children’s ministry veterans share the core values of
Sandy Spooner, director of children’s ministry at SunRise United
Sandy’s children’s ministry core values:
Because we believe that God created humans for relationship with
Craig Jutila, children’s pastor at Saddleback Community Church
Gary Webb, children’s ministry director at Northwoods Community
Please keep in mind that phone numbers, addresses, and
prices are subject to change.