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Worth the Risk


RISKY BUSINESS
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 year?

  • We started picking up kids in our van ministry not really knowing where the funds were going to come from.
  • 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 volunteers.
  • 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 separate.
  • Hosted a soccer camp for underprivileged children.
  • 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 leading.
  • Discovering some great new talent. Working my tail off trying to get lessons adapted to our circumstances.

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