1. Team Competency
When you form a leadership team, you ask all sort of questions: commitment questions, getting-to-know-you questions, how-long-have-you-been-a-believer questions. They’re necessary questions, but if you want to operate at a high level, you have to assess skill.
Here’s what I’ve discovered: You cannot train everybody for children’s ministry. There are people who simply don’t have the basic skills or temperament they need to be effective and other people who simply don’t want to learn. And the fact that a potential leader has taught before in another program somewhere doesn’t mean much. Maybe that person taught badly back at his or her former church.
You need people who are competent. They have skills that can be sharpened, and they’re willing to grow in their ministry skills. Ask potential leaders to tell you about times they felt that they really connected with kids. How did they do it? What sort of lessons do they enjoy teaching? How do their philosophies of Christian education line up with your ministry’s philosophy? Ask questions about how they’d handle specific discipline situations. What skills do you see? What skills do you need to see? Are you involving people who can actually do the tasks that need to be done?
2. Team Commitment
If you want a high-level ministry team, it’s going to take work. Be honest with potential leaders about that right up front. You’re looking for leaders who want to serve and are willing to grow in their abilities as servants in children’s ministry. That’s going to require time and effort.
Here’s a tip for getting new leaders to stick: Start small.
First invite potential leaders to do gateway commitments (small task-oriented projects that require little or no equipping). Once new leaders experience how great it is to minister to children, they usually come back for a little more responsibility. The key is to never let them walk away discouraged.
If a leader is going to come in contact with a child, try to have that person to be involved every week. If the leader can only give time every other week, fine—there are ministry opportunities that person can do too.
It’s a matter of doing what’s best for the kids we serve. Who’s more effective in classrooms dealing with children: someone who rotates through a classroom once a month, or the leader who’s there week after week? the person who walks through the door to share information, or the leader who knows children well enough to share life?
The Holy Spirit can use either leader, and we expect every leader to share accurate, biblical information.
For sheer impact, the leader who’s invested in the kids will win every time.
Consider the numbers
If Nancy serves once a month, that’s approximately twelve hours per year she’s with kids. If Beth serves every week, that’s approximately fifty-two hours per year. On average, Beth sees the children in class four times more than the monthly teacher. That’s forty extra opportunities to build relationships, increase community, and communicate a different and deeper type of care!
It’s a common practice to recruit tons of leaders so that nobody has to be with the kids more than a few times per month, but is that approach the best way to encourage your kids to grow spiritually? Won’t your kids be better served if they have a significant adult with whom they’re comfortable opening up to talk? Remember that you’re not just recruiting teachers, you’re also developing leaders. Build in time for those mentoring relationships to develop.
4. Team Chemistry
As you bring your leaders on board and move them along, look for ways to help your team develop chemistry. That’s when serving in ministry gets to be really fun. As you recruit leaders, keep these four characteristics in mind: competency, commitment, consistency, and chemistry. When you find people who have all those, they’re going to thrive and find joy in serving in children’s ministry.
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