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5 Crucial Things Children’s Ministry Leaders Need

Welcome to the world of children’s ministry! Whether you’re a new leader, or someone who has been shepherding kids and their families for years, it’s good to review the basics. So read on to discover a strategic children’s ministry plan to anchor you and your volunteer team in success. You’ll find practical tips to help you set priorities, find balance, and navigate the unknown ministry waters on the horizon.

1. Children’s ministry leaders need clear vision.

So many things can blur our ministry vision. But for children’s ministry leaders, a personal relationship with God must be the main focus. When you stay focused on your own friendship with God, ministry vision stays clear and healthy.

God is looking for a friendship with you—really! It’s easy to think that ministry and discipleship is all about teaching and communicating facts about God. But the heart of ministry and discipleship is your own deep, loving friendship with God that draws you closer to Jesus and transforms you from the inside out.

We aren’t just God’s employees; we’re God’s friends! And that’s reason to rejoice. In Romans 5:11, Paul writes, “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”

2. Children’s ministry leaders need support.

Friendship with God is most important. And friendship with people is the next part of the plan. Swim with a buddy—or two or three or 10—because children’s ministry leaders need support.

When researching for Scuba vacation Bible school, the team at Group discovered that scuba divers all follow one unwavering rule: Dive with a buddy. That means never jumping into the water alone. And it means discovering the world of children’s ministry alongside a friend.

God isn’t friends with just you! He’s got lots of friends he’s working through. Like Paul needed Barnabas, and Ruth needed Naomi. When children’s ministry leaders come together to support and encourage each other, you can do great things. Consider these ideas:

  • Attending conferences is a great way to find your people. Spending a lot of concentrated time with people from your church is so good. But don’t forget to chit-chat and connect with people you don’t know yet, too.
  • Children’s ministry local networks are another great way to find friendship and support.
  • And friends are just a click away. There are a lot of children’s ministry groups on social media to join. Check out Group VBS on Facebook, the Simply Loved Teachers’ Lounge, or the DIG IN Teachers’ Lounge!

So the first step in a strategic children’s ministry plan is to focus on your friendship with God. The second step is to build friendship with other children’s ministry leaders and spiritual mentors. The third step helps newer leaders test the waters of ministry:

3. Leaders need to dream big but start small.

Here’s what that looks like. As a new leader, be sure to get the feel for your job before remodeling the entire ministry. Get to know your boss and your colleagues. Befriend key volunteers. Familiarize yourself with your budget. Be realistic in your expectations.

And pray! Make sure that you talk with and listen for God as you consider changes. Pray for God to guide and help you grow.

When it comes to children’s ministry changes, it’s tempting to choose big and fast over small and steady. Instead of moving right on in and making a big change, start small by prioritizing relationships—not only with other children’s ministry leaders, but also with key people in your church. Remember, a little relational effort multiplied goes a long way!

4. Children’s ministry leaders need to put safety first.

It’s easy to think that safety policies are your administrative duties. You have to dot your I’s and cross your T’s. But leading a safe and secure church is part of ministering to kids and their families. Safety is ministry! It’s an essential part of your job to keep you, your volunteers, and your kids afloat. And there’s a lot to cover.

Things like

It’s tough stuff that as a children’s ministry leader, you don’t need to be an expert on right now. There are tons of resources out there to help you. Your church’s insurance company could be a wonderful resource. For example, Brotherhood Mutual’s website has forms and documents you need to get started.

Need to brush up on your church’s safety policies? Check out these 4 Do’s and Don’ts for Children’s Ministry Safety Awareness.

5. Leaders need to see what’s below the surface.

Did you know that scientists believe there are 2.2 million species of living organisms in the ocean? But scientists have only identified about 240,000 of them. Just looking at the ocean, we might never guess that there are so many hidden creatures living under the surface.

There may be a lot going on below the surface of your church’s children’s ministry, too. Some good things, and some not-so-good things. For now, let’s focus on the good stuff.

At Group, there is a ministry philosophy under the surface of everything we create. That philosophy is called REAL.

A Group VBS lesson may look like a simple Bible story, but hidden below the surface is a strategic approach to helping people grow in relationship with Jesus and each other.

  • Every lesson is relational. There are times when kids will talk and play and get to know each other and their leader better. Because Christian relationships are important!
  • Every lesson is experiential. Kids won’t just sit and listen. There will be engaging activities for them to experience firsthand.
  • Each lesson will be applicable. Kids won’t just know Bible facts, but they will think through how truth from the Bible matters in their everyday life. Check out these 9 Easy Ways to Make Life Application a Part of Everyday Life.
  • And each lesson will lead to lifelong relationships with Jesus because they are learner based. Rather than just doing what the teacher wants or has always done in the past, kids and their needs and preferences are most important.

As children’s ministry leaders, it’s your job to look below the surface and equip volunteers with deep and effective Bible lessons that kids love and will help them grow in relationship with Jesus and each other. Need some examples? Check out these free Sunday school lessons to get you started.

What if you look below the surface and don’t like what you see? When you see something not-so-good, go back to the beginning of our list. Talk with God about it. Get advice from ministry friends. Talk with friends you’ve made in your church and understand why that issue is there in the first place. Maybe a volunteer policy needs to be changed or reviewed. Or perhaps now it’s time to ease into some curriculum changes. See how the strategic steps all work together to help you lead well?

Friends, leading children’s ministry isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s downright hard. You aren’t perfect, and there will be times when you don’t lead well. That’s just how it is.

But even if your title says otherwise, you aren’t in charge of ministry to children—Jesus is! He is our dive buddy who surrounds us with grace and truth to help us grow to be good leaders.

New to children’s ministry? We have even more great insight for you! Download this FREE My First 90 days in Ministry eBook. It’s our gift to you!

Looking for even more leader tips? Check out these Group U training courses. You can find even more ideas here!

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