Kids Pastor or Circus Master

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Say no. If children are why you got into
children’s ministry in the first place, you must say no sometimes,
no matter how hard it is. For example, I occasionally turn down
offers to preach during adult services so I can focus on what God
has called me to do.

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Awhile back, our liability-insurance company made ridiculous
requests when our church wanted to increase coverage. One
suggestion involved a five-person procedure for children’s bathroom
visits. Knowing that wasn’t possible, I replied, “I’m sorry, but at
this time we aren’t able to comply.”

Remember your priorities. Three years ago, during
a packed children’s church service, we experienced discipline
issues, technical problems, late volunteers, frustrated parents,
and more. My wife was leading the elementary-age kids in worship
while I tried to put out fires. Suddenly, I spotted two longtime
best friends crying together. One girl was moving out of town, and
this was her last Sunday at our church. My wife tried to comfort
them while leading songs for everyone else.

Initially, I wondered why our other trained adults weren’t helping
out. Then it hit me: Why did I want to be a children’s pastor in
the first place? Wasn’t my goal to make a difference in kids’
lives? I asked a volunteer to tell everyone to do their best to fix
the other problems; I was going to pray with these girls. They
hugged me, and we prayed and laughed. Then one girl’s mom came
over, and we all talked some more.

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Lead with your heart. That day, I realized how
much we all need loving spiritual leaders. Children are no
different from adults in this regard. Some children’s ministry
leaders thrive on schedules, forms, and budgets. If that describes
you, then surround yourself with people who want to personally
impact kids. Other leaders’ hearts turn toward reaching children
and developing those gifts. If that describes you, then resist
letting ministry become merely a management game.

All programs need organization, administration, and policies, but
ultimately, these are secondary. So if your ministry has started
resembling an elaborate circus, step back and trade your top hat
for a shepherd’s staff. After all, the purpose of solid children’s
ministry isn’t entertaining children but helping them know
Jesus.

Marty Martin is the director of Kidology to
Go (kidologytogo.org).

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