How many times have you told yourself, “If I only knew then what I know now!” I began work as a children’s ministry director about 8 years ago. I had volunteered many years prior, but that was my first time in the director’s role. By God’s grace, the ministry thrived, but looking back, there are so many things I’d do differently. So, for this blog post, I want to share with you the five things I’d take with me as I enter into ministry. Maybe this list will inspire you to try some new things!
1. Volunteer Background Checks and Interviews
One out of every 10 people who try to work with children has a criminal conviction. When churches are consistent about requiring background checks for anyone working with minors, then it deters predators from volunteering or obtaining a position at their church. It’s also important to get to know your potential volunteers; that way you know where they can thrive in service. That’s huge when trying to avoid burnout.
2. Stay Connected
One of the things I love about working at Group is connecting with friends in ministry around the country. I have learned so much from listening to others in our field. How can you start to make connections? If you haven’t checked out cmconnect.org, that’s a great place to start. And if you really want to make deep, life-changing connections, you have to join me in coming to KidMin.
3. Be Smart
I’d be so afraid to see how much time I used to spend just talking to kids…straight talk…no visuals, no games, no interactivity. Unfortunately, words alone tend to go in one ear and out the other…not just with kids, but myself as well! As I move back into ministry, I’m taking into consideration that different kinds of learners make intellectual connections with Scripture best in different ways. According to Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University, people are naturally strong in certain ways of learning. Some of us are visual learners; others learn best by doing. He called them intelligences, and you can discover more about them here. You can check and see if your lessons are hitting all the intelligences, or smarts as we call them, here.
4. Be R.E.A.L.
For learning to be effective, we know it needs to be R.E.A.L.: Relational, Experiential, Applicable, and Learner-based. In ministries around the globe, R.E.A.L. learning has transformed how children and adults learn and develop their faith. In the book Sunday School That Works, you can take a closer look at R.E.A.L. learning, why it works, and how you can adopt it in your Sunday school ministry. Here’s a free sample chapter on R.E.A.L.
5. Train and Shepherd
I can’t thank my previous volunteers enough. I was young and naïve and would give them tasks without properly training them. Now I realize that part of the job of a children’s minister is to encourage and equip volunteers with the right information. And training volunteers is easy! I recommend Good to Go. This on-demand video training service is really the ultimate tool when it comes to equipping volunteers without a scheduling nightmare.
Do you have any advice for others on getting into ministry (or jumping in for the first time)? Let us know using the comment section below!
This is my 213th and final blog here at childrensministry.com. I thank you for reading, and pray that God has used this to inform, inspire, or entertain you. If you’d like, you can follow me on Twitter @rdavidjennings.
I want to thank my copy-editing friends Andrea, Becky, Deb, and Lyndsay for putting up with 213 blogs’ worth of spelling errors, run-on sentences, and other grammatical anomalies. Also, the amazing Rochelle (connect with her on LinkedIn!) who helped me know what exactly to blog about judging by what you all search for online. And my amazing co-workers God has blessed me with, many of which you have heard from (like here or here).
May God bless you and your ministry!