Children’s ministers wear many hats. Here are all the different hats you may be wearing, and how to share these hats with others on your team.
“Just one more and I’ll be done.”
Once again, temptation is too strong to resist.
“I’ll just add one more and that’ll do it.”
Like children building block towers and hoping they won’t topple over, we children’s ministers sometimes have to add “one more hat” to our already maxed-out headgear. There’s no way to avoid it; our job demands it.
Children’s ministers must be “master hatters” to survive. But in order to keep your hats from toppling into a heap, you need some hat-wearing principles. If you learn how to wear your many hats in style, you maintain balance in your life.
The Many Hats of a Children’s Ministers
Take a look at some of the most common hats children’s ministers wear and see if you recognize any of your ministry hats. Are they being worn properly? If they are, you’ll fulfill your ministry with a “hats off to you” salute.
This can be one of the most poorly worn hats if you allow it to be. It’s easy to neglect your closest relationships in the name of “ministry.” But your family is your first ministry priority. If you’re married, spend regular time with your spouse. Schedule a getaway weekend at least once a quarter. Set aside one day, one afternoon or one evening each week for a date with your spouse. Also schedule times for special family activities. Even if you are single or don’t have children, you can call your mom or write a letter to your brother. Invest in family relationships. And…oh yes, it can be done! Take your appointment book today and make a fresh start in setting these appointments first.
Your second priority is the people-not the programs-in your ministry. Their needs and interests are more important than the offering amounts or filled quotas. Personally contact the children and adults in your ministry. Regularly send notes, make phone calls or drop by to visit. Get to know people and let them know you really care.
Don’t ignore the people who can help your ministry. Avoid becoming so focused on your ministry that you neglect the overall ministries of the church. Stay in contact with others outside your immediate ministry sphere. Occasionally attend programs and activities where you can meet and maintain contacts with others who are necessary supports to your ministry.
Money can be a problem area. Establish clear and precise procedures to ensure accountability for any ministry funds. Always use a two-person-signature checking account for any ministry funds, especially if one signature is your own.
Be available to people who are hurting, but remember that those in crisis are emotionally vulnerable and so are you. Never put yourself into compromising situations as you counsel others. Never counsel anyone alone in a secluded place. If you do, your actions or integrity may be questioned.
It’s an awesome responsibility to feed God’s flock. Don’t cheat on preparing a spiritual meal for your kids. Take time to pray about the opportunities God puts before you and then prepare well. Study diligently for each talk or lesson.
Successful church administration is dependent on basic organization and common sense. Organize your day, your week and your month. Plan ahead. Make time for people as well as programs. Then think about what you’re planning to do. Share your planning with others you respect and get their feedback.
Close friendships frequently fall victim to ministry pressures. In addition to family time, you need close friends with whom you can share your joys, burdens, frustrations and victories. Lasting friendships don’t just happen; they must be “worked at” constantly. Set aside regular times for close friends who provide mutual encouragement and support.
Effective group leadership requires skill. Keep your scholar hat on by being a lifelong student of effective group-management and educational methodology. If you aren’t consciously and aggressively seeking out better ways to teach children, you may find your ministry characterize by a “dunce” hat. A little effort can make the greatest difference in a group experience.
These are just a few of the major ministry hats all of us are called upon to wear. Rather than seeing your hats topple, discover how wearing the hats properly can lead to ministry success and accomplishments beyond what you ever envisioned.
M. Kurt Jarvis is a director of children and family ministries in New Jersey.
You don’t have to do everything yourself. Follow these delegation principles:
- Make a written plan. Outline each ministry activity others can help with. Then develop a list of people who might have the skills to do the various tasks required.
- Ask for help. It’s not easy if you’re a perfectionist, but releasing some control and delegating will develop others’ skills.
- Contact people personally. You can send out a letter or put an announcement in the church bulletin to inform people, but you need to personally ask them to help.
- Plan early. Don’t ask others to do rush jobs when you had time to give them advance notice-and you wasted that time. Ask people early to ensure success in their tasks.
- Follow up. For every delegated task, make a checkup calendar with a reasonable timeline to check on the progress of projects. If someone needs help, connect him or her with someone who can assist.
- Communicate. When you have a project that involves several individuals in various components, communicate the “big picture” to everyone. Let people know how important their responsibilities are to the overall task.
- Affirm. People need to be affirmed and recognized in their ministries. Encourage and compliment them as their work progresses.
- Say thanks. Say thank you to those who help you. Write a personal note. Or deliver a framed calligraphied scripture verse or a single carnation in a vase to say thank you.
Begin a teacher-training meeting by setting out a variety of hats-as many as you can find. One at a time, have teachers choose hats that characterize ministry areas they’ve been struggling with. For example, someone might choose a hard hat because her students have been hardheaded lately. Or someone might choose a baseball cap because he feels like he’s striking out. Form pairs, and have partners brainstorm things they could do to deal with their difficult areas.
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