Presidential candidates, sports teams and families need it. Without it, bridges and buildings collapse.
Children’s ministers need support too. But when you build up everyone else and don’t seek support for yourself, your ministry and personal life may end up in a heap of rubble.
How do you get support? What has worked for others? We asked several children’s ministers where they find support. Here are their answers:
RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST
*Making time-Larry Miller of West Virginia takes time for daily devotions and talks to God throughout the day. “The #1 thing is my relationship with Christ for my personal support,” says Larry.
*Prayer groups-In addition to personal prayer, Brent Van Elswyk has a group of women in his California church who pray for him weekly.
Mark von Ehrenkrook, an Arizona children’s pastor, goes to a cabin once a month with four friends —just to pray. And they meet once a month for breakfast. “It’s that mutual accountability, someone who’s challenging your beliefs and systems and encouraging you,” says Mark. “This team has been an exciting network for spiritual support.”
FRIENDS AND FAMILY
*Spouse-Tom Fethe of Tennessee says, “the most significant source of support comes from my wife…Just by her encouragement, I’m strengthened and helped.”
*Family time-When Linda Snyder of Virginia schedules events that take her away from home, she schedules back-home time to make up for it. “A lot of my staying unfrazzled is because my family helps me unwind. And I don’t catch the flack of having them always feeling they come last,” says Linda.
*Friends-“Every time I get with my friends who are in children’s ministry,” says Lauren Quagliata of Missouri, “I get new ideas and encouragement. It’s encouraging just to know someone has the same problem.”
Some of Larry Miller’s best friends are the laypeople on the children’s leadership team. He meets with them twice a month and throughout the week for support.
National and local conferences-Children’s ministers build lifelong relationships at conferences. “Even though [participants] live far away, we can call any time, talk and kick around ideas,” says Brent Van Elswyk.
*Local groups-Adam Luna of Colorado benefits from monthly meetings of area children’s ministers. “We also meet for social events,” says Adam. “We don’t have to deal with heavy issues that we address at later times. That’s been a great benefit to me.”
*Staff-Larry Miller’s church staff meets weekly. They update each other on what they’re doing and anything they’re struggling with. Larry says they brainstorm ideas to help each other.
*Children’s parents-Tom Fethe gets to know parents and they become part of his support system. “Just by ministering to one another, I’m the beneficiary,” says Tom. “I get to be encouraged and strengthened by the parents of the children who are my responsibility.”
*Senior pastor-Larry Miller’s senior pastor was his mentor when he first started children’s ministry. “He has always been on my list of support systems when I need professional objectivity,” says Larry.
Barbara Beach was departments assistant editor for CHILDREN’S MINISTRY Magazine.