Every ministry can be infiltrated, and every leader can become
It’s a scary thought, especially when you consider how much
effort, time, and care we put into our ministries. Infiltrated by
what? Vulnerable to what?
The truth is, there are seven major threats to every ministry out
there, biding their time, waiting to sneak in when no one is
looking. So consider this your fair warning. It’s time to batten
down the hatches of your ministry and prepare to use your
leadership skills. Here’s how to give the boot to these threats
before they ever get a toe in your ministry doorway.
Threat #1: Mr. Disunity
A lack of unity from within your team will seep in and crack apart
your children’s ministry through gossip, division, backbiting, and
slander. This threat is often the culprit behind church splits, “us
vs. them” ministry divisions, and personal agendas that create
Defeat Mr. Disunity
- Understand-and help your team understand-that unity is
key. God’s power and his blessings flow through unity.
(See John 17:21, John 13:35, Psalm 133:1, and Acts 2:42-47.)
- Set goals. Establish a common vision that
people will support and rally behind.
- Enlist core values that identify your
ministry. These core values, such as friendliness and
grace, will strengthen your unity and help your team know what you
expect of them.
- Model and expect direct communication. Unity
doesn’t mean you agree on everything. But it does mean there’s
open, direct, loving, mature communication when issues or
disagreements arise. Create a culture where people go to their
direct leader with questions or concerns rather than having side
conversations with other staff, volunteers, or parents.
- Lovingly confront people when they aren’t following
core values. Don’t tolerate or enable divisiveness,
gossip, or bad attitudes. Once your team makes a decision, everyone
stacks hands. If someone can’t stack hands, encourage that person
to leave quietly.
Threat #2: The Abuser
The Abuser is a deadly enemy who seeks to destroy your
children’s ministry through the abuse of children. He’ll not only
hurt a child’s life, but also severely damage your ministry in the
Defeat The Abuser
- Make safety first. Place security for kids as
a top priority in your ministry; get your leaders and team on
board, and publicize it.
- Prepare. Establish secure buildings and proper
plans and safety systems before something happens, not after.
- Know who you’re dealing with. Complete a
thorough screening for volunteers that includes a background check,
a personal interview, reference calls,
- Maintain the two-adult rule so no volunteer is ever
alone with a child. This protects kids and also the
volunteers who faithfully serve in your ministry.
Threat #3: Mrs. Inwardly Focused
This threat constantly attempts to shift your attention away
from those outside the walls of your church. She’s most comfortable
in a holy huddle. She can be very outspoken. You’ll hear her
critiques in phrases such as, “the teaching isn’t deep enough” or
“we need to care for our own rather than worrying about getting
more new people in” or “I don’t care if new people like the
music-it’s too loud!”
Defeat Mrs. Inwardly Focused
- Remember what matters to Jesus. He has the
world on his heart. He came to seek and save those who are lost,
and your church is an avenue to achieve that.
- It’s not about numbers. Rather than focusing
week in and week out only on the number of kids who are attending,
also focus on who’s outside who could be attending your
- Keep a balanced ministry. Provide pathways for
kids to grow in their faith inside your program while reaching out
to your community.
- Be a hospital…not a museum. Your ministry
can’t be a spiritual museum where perfect Christians are on
display. It’s a hospital where the spiritually sick can come and
Threat #4: Mr. Calendar
This threat (and it may even come from you) wants to fill your
ministry calendar with random events and programs. His mantra is
“the busier the better.” He’s the dad who has a great idea. He’s
the music group that’s going to be coming through your area. He’s
that little voice in your head telling you should be doing more,
Defeat Mr. Calendar Crowder
- Just because someone wants you to do it doesn’t mean
you should. Don’t say “yes” without first seeking God in
prayer, getting his confirmation, and talking with your
- Find your niche and do a few things well. It’s
a fact: You can either do a lot of things with mediocrity or a few
things with excellence.
- What you say “no” to is just as important as what you
say “yes” to. Sometimes good ideas have to die so great
ones can live.
- Be process driven rather than program driven.
Think from the perspective of “pathways to growth” rather than
“quantity of programs.”
- Ask yourself these questions. How would the
new program impact resources and staff? Is the opportunity based on
the personal interest of a few or the well-being of the whole? Is
it a “good” idea or a “God” idea?
Threat #5: Cousin Complacency
Cousin Complacency tends to approach you after you’ve been in
ministry awhile. She lingers in familiarity. She loves to whisper,
“Been there, done that, no problem” in your ear. She wants you to
put the ministry on cruise control, kick back, and relax. Why
strive to grow spiritually and as a leader? You’re doing just fine.
No need to reach more kids and families for Jesus…just hold out
until Jesus comes.
Defeat Cousin Complacency
- Increase the time you spend with God. Your
next level of ministry is waiting in your relationship with God.
You’ll become a better leader on your knees.
- Ask a trusted friend or mentor to be brutally honest
with you about weak areas they see in your leadership.
Debrief with this person after events and programs to look for ways
- Constantly bring in new volunteers. New volunteers bring new
energy, excitement, and passion.
- Be a thermostat rather than a thermometer.
It’s up to you to set the spiritual temperature rather than simply
reflect it. Stay fired up yourself if you want to see your ministry
- Keep sharing your vision. A vision left
unfueled will go out. Constantly remind people why they’re doing
the work of the ministry. State your vision clearly and
Threat #6: Mr. Pride
Mr. Pride’s goal is for you to stop depending on God and start
depending on yourself. He wants you to believe the press and take
credit for what’s happening. He wants to render you unteachable.
And why wait for God’s help when you can help yourself now?
Defeat Mr. Pride
- Remember: The way up is down. If you humble
yourself, God will lift you up in his time (1 Peter 5:6). Own your
mistakes and be quick to say “I’m sorry.”
- Stay teachable. We all say we’re
teachable…until there’s a lesson to be learned. Admit when you
don’t understand or know something.
- Listen a lot more than you talk. The old
saying is true: God gave us two ears and one mouth for a
- Ask for others’ opinions. Ask others to join
in conversations and contribute.
- Don’t boast. Push others into the spotlight.
Know that the commendations and condemnations of man will come and
go. Don’t let either sway you.
Threat #7: Miss Solo Superhero
Miss Solo Superhero wants you to do ministry alone, even if it
kills you. Rather than training and investing in others, Solo wants
you to do everything yourself and never take a break. She’ll try to
convince you to spend all your time doing, not showing. She’ll
whisper in your ear that no one can do it as well or fast as you.
You know Solo’s been at work when you begin to feel like a willing
Defeat Miss Solo Superhero
- Don’t do ministry alone. Always have someone
by your side who you’re investing in, mentoring, and preparing to
- Empower your team and give away ministry. You
may be able to go faster alone…but you’ll always go farther
- Make yourself unnecessary to the success of the
ministry. Set your team up for success so they don’t rely
- Make a dream list of volunteer positions. If
you could have every support role you wanted, what would it look
like? Pray and invite people one-on-one to join you. Then watch God
fill your list.
One or more of these threats may be breathing down your neck
right now. They may even have you backed into a corner. Take heart!
You can defeat them. Implement these steps and watch God bring the