Taking calculated risks doesn't mean you're reckless or simply
prefer to ignore the consequences. In fact, if the responses we
received in our survey are an indicator-risks worth taking are
generally taken only after prayerful consideration-and almost
always require people to step out in faith.
Our research makes it clear that a majority of children's
ministers (83.1 percent) were willing to take major risks in their
ministry over the past year.
In light of increasing national unemployment figures and, in many
cases, decreasing budget numbers, this willingness to embrace
change speaks loudly of the bold and innovative nature of today's
children's ministry leaders.
We asked: What risk did you take in your ministry in the last
- We started picking up kids in our van
ministry not really knowing where the funds were going to come
- We decided to take our ministry outside of
our church…The children in our children's ministry were able to
mentor and share Christ with neighborhood children.
- After a lot of prayer, I was led to change
the way I teach the preschoolers-spending time experiencing the
ways of God in the lesson not just the acts of God.
- Closed the nursery because of a lack of
- Changed curriculum for our children's
ministry…from traditional classroom setting…to Buzz by Group. Big
change for everyone!
- We did Family Jams on Wednesday nights
throughout the summer instead of keeping families
- Hosted a soccer camp for underprivileged
- Started a staffed nursery ministry. The
church was very against the idea. We funded it through donations
and the church paid for none of it.
- We added several programs completely,
changed programs, and eliminated Sunday school for six weeks to
give teachers a break.
RESULTS OF RISK
While change is rarely easy and may
involve hurdles and barriers, those taking our survey found that
the benefits to their ministry far outweigh the risk when they
follow God's lead. When Anne Clay,
director of children's ministries at Central Church in
Collierville, Tennessee, decided to drop its traditional VBS
program and replace it with a family-focused event, the decision
brought with it many serious risks.
"It was a challenge to convince parents
that participating with their children was far better than dropping
them off," Anne recalls. Not only did this new direction eliminate
an existing program, but it also replaced it with one that would
require additional volunteers.
"We believed in it and stood firm," Anne
says. While initially the idea was met with strong resistance,
through open communication, including staff talking points and a
clearly communicated vision, the results were worth the risk.
"It…led to even more and better opportunities to minister to kids
and their parents together."
As ministry leaders, those involved in our survey realized that
the future of their children's ministry relies not only on their
ability to recognize the need for change, but also on the
leadership skills to make it happen. And now these leaders are
looking forward to more innovation and risk.
We asked: In your church, what contributes to success in
taking a risk?
- Everyone being on the same page and in
agreement, following through with said plan, and making sure
everything lines up with God's Word.
- Prepare people for the change…train them
regarding the change…follow up after the change.
- Prayer, planning, and heavily consistent
communication with the parents and guardians.
- Getting outspoken church members involved
and supportive of the idea.
- Selling the "risk" to the volunteer staff.
If they're on board it's a winner, for sure!
- Having a team onboard that believes what
you're doing is right and is for the right reasons.
- Vision, commitment, open minds,
dedication, and prayer.
- Prayer, attitude, and a heart willing to
step out and take the risk if you feel that's where God is
- Discovering some great new talent. Working
my tail off trying to get lessons adapted to our