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Dear Me: Advice From Ministry Leaders to Their Younger Selves

They say hindsight is 20/20. So we asked seasoned ministry leaders across the country to think back to their first year of ministry and write themselves a note with helpful advice. If you’re in your first years of children’s ministry, these leaders just might have some good advice for you, too! Keep reading to discover seven pieces of wisdom that ministry leaders would give to themselves during their first years in ministry leadership. Plus, find links to helpful resources and articles to help you get started in following their great advice.

Advice From Ministry Leaders to Their Younger Selves

1. Prioritize relationships.

“Take the time to focus on the kids and build relationships. Details are important but should never take the place of giving time to a child. You are the hands and feet of Jesus.” –Carla Wiederhold, Minnesota

“Worry less about the details and focus on relationships. Kids won’t remember all that they learned but will remember that they felt loved.” –Julia Berger, Washington

“Stop trying to write curricula and, instead, customize available resources.” –Julie Floyd, Texas

“Volunteers are partners in the discipleship of our children. Take time to care for them. Encourage them. Pray for them. Celebrate them.” –Joel Bullock, Arizona

Ready to start befriending? Check out 12 Ways to Develop Friendships With Kids and 11 Ways to Challenge Your Volunteers to Grow Their Faith.

2. Find a mentor.

“Find a godly mentor who will love you, pray with you and be your biggest cheerleader, who keeps pointing you back to Jesus. Love them and learn from them.” –Heidi Lewis, Missouri

“This journey is much better when taken with other like-minded folks!” –Shari Borders, Missouri

“Make and keep ministry friends! They understand you.” –Jessica Van Lehn, Ohio

Want to connect with like-minded ministry friends? Join a Group VBS or Group Sunday School Facebook group!

3. You don’t need to be perfect.

“Give yourself grace. Things won’t be perfect—and you won’t be either—but you have a Savior who is. Give up the pressure to be perfect, and lean into Jesus. He’s the one in control anyway.” –Becky Chaplin, Nevada

“Perfection is less important than you think.” –Shari Borders, Missouri

“I would give myself permission to take risk and not fear failure.” –Joe Patterson, California

Is it time to take a risk and try out a new curriculum? Check out Group VBS options or compare Sunday school curriculums now

4. Slow down.

“Slow down. Don’t get so caught up in trying to do all the things. It’s fun and exciting, but if you run too far and too fast, you will eventually hit burnout.” –Nicole Underwood, Oklahoma

“In my first year of ministry I tried to do it all. I would have slowed down and built my team I have now. A team is worth everything. They help you build up those little lives in the Kingdom of Heaven so much more and the people get a greater love as well for the Lord.” –Jackie Calonder, Oregon

Download this ebook: Top Proven Ways to Find and Keep Good Volunteers. Why not? It’s free!

5. Take time for yourself.

“Please take time for yourself. Fill your cup spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, in every part of your life. Set boundaries when you need to, even when it’s hard. You are too important not to.” –Becky Chaplin, Nevada

“You have to take time for yourself, time to fill your own bucket. It’s not selfish, it’s essential. You can’t be your best self; you can’t be all God called you to be if you don’t do the things you need to fill your own cup.” –Amy Bishop, Kentucky

Find out why soul care is so important. Read Soul Care: Why Friendship With God Is So Important.

6. Ask for help.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are people around you that will step up if you just ask. You don’t have to shoulder everything on your own.” –Nicole Underwood, Oklahoma

“Don’t do everything yourself. Let others help. Think further ahead than ‘right now’ to the benefit of building a team around you. It will be so important as your ministry grows.” –Mary Sims, Texas

“There is so much value in creating inter-generational, faith-building, and fun moments. Engage older church members in ways that they feel needed, and they will support your ministry and show up for you in ways that you could never imagine.” –April Jackson, Tennessee

Gift registries aren’t just for weddings and babies anymore! Perhaps people in your church would like to help by donating needed supplies and resources. With Group’s all-new gift registry, you can create gift lists for things like VBS, Sunday school, and more! Consider setting up an account with Group’s Gift Registry.

7. Love and trust Jesus.

“Keep your relationship with Jesus a priority—you cannot lead where you yourself are not willing to go. So let Jesus lead you and your ministry.” –Julia Berger, Washington

“The personal sacrifice is all worth it to help kids and families grow together and in their relationship with Jesus. BUT be sure to get filled up yourself by taking time with the Lord. Above all, pray!” –Heather Meacham, Colorado

Redesigned for 2024, The Jesus-Centered Planner, a monthly and daily planner, features Jesus-centered devotional prompts, a Bible reading plan, goal setting worksheets, and more.

Are you a new children’s ministry leader in need of more tips and advice? Check out for articles on topics like Classroom Management, Safety and Security, Budgeting and Finance, and Planning Events! Plus, consider enrolling in an online Group U course to equip yourself to be an effective ministry leader.

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Dear Me: Advice From Ministry Leaders...

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