You really want to start out well in children’s ministry. Your desire is to have maximum impact that is making an eternal difference to children. You are hoping to be just as passionate and enthusiastic after several years in the role as you are right now. There are so many questions you are wrestling with.
How can I recruit volunteers, and empower them to disciple children in our church? How can we equip parents to spiritually invest in their kids? What will it really take for our church to raise young people who are lifelong followers of Jesus?
These are just some of the many questions that new children’s ministry leaders find themselves asking. Three primary areas are important to consider when starting out in kids’ ministry:
What does it look like to develop children who are lifelong followers of Jesus? Child development, faith development theories and recent research all point to the effectiveness of children’s ministry that is not only educational, but also formational. There are things we want children to know; but there are also things we want children to experience and have the opportunity in which to participate. Programming, then, is more than planning week to week lessons. It involves stepping back to see how church communities live, learn, play and serve together.
How will you develop yourself as a growing leader, who outworks strategic and thoughtful ministry and has longevity in ministry? Children’s ministry comes with a unique set of challenges and responsibilities. Understanding our strengths as leaders, being lifelong learners, identifying sources of support and connection, and knowing how to rest and refresh are all important factors in lasting the distance.
Where will you find leaders who are passionate about ministering with children? People are inspired to join children’s ministry teams for a variety of reasons. Some are motivated by a big vision to reach and disciple children; others by a clearly defined role description which outlines exactly how they can contribute; and still others by the prospect of working with a passionate and like-minded team. All teams are strengthened through shared experiences, genuine appreciation, and clear communication. Excellent leaders will empower and draw the best out of those in their teams.
Our Association’s Children’s and Family Ministries team are passionate about helping children’s leaders wrestle with these and other important questions. One exciting development is the introduction of Leadership Cohorts for those new to leadership in Children and Family Ministries. Meeting six times over nine months, cohorts involve training and input from facilitators, as well as conversation, sharing of ideas, mutual support and prayer.
Leadership Cohorts aim to reflect our Association’s Core 5 values: in particular, to be Relationally Committed, People Empowering and Partnership Oriented. Our first cohort is comprised of the children’s ministry oversights from Carlingford, Cherrybrook, New Vine Lakes and Toongabbie Baptist Church.
Our children, families and churches need healthy and strategic Children’s Workers and Families Pastors who will last the distance in ministry. By empowering them with the resources they need to lay strong foundations in children’s lives, continue growing and thriving in ministry, and develop others who can join in this important calling, our ministries with children and families will flourish.
If your church has recently appointed a Children or Families Pastor, or a point person who oversees all children’s ministry for your church, please let us know by emailing Louise Bartlett (firstname.lastname@example.org). Our next cohort group begins early in 2017, and we’d love them to join in.