As you minister to the kids, you will grow as a leader. You are going to need a lot of volunteers to reach a lot of kids, so it’s critical that you understand leadership and that you grow in your leadership skills.
Here is my list of the top-five leadership skills you need for kids’ ministry:
1. Be an example.
The leader is the one who sets the pace. Peter said it like this: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.
1 Peter 5:2,3
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You need to be the one who is more committed than anyone else. Don’t just be on time for your volunteer meetings, be ten minutes early.
Be prepared when you minister. Don’t just get up in front of the kids and wing it. Don’t ever just read the curriculum.
The Scripture says to study to show yourself approved (see 2 Tim. 2:15). Preach out of your overflow.
Practice your drama skits. Memorize your lines. Test all your media elements on the screen before church so you are not embarrassed.
You are the leader. The kids are watching you. Your volunteers are watching you. They are only going to do what you do.
2. Be proactive.
When I first started in kids’ ministry, I saw myself as a victim.
I loved the kids, but I felt like my ministry was totally at the mercy of other people.
I played the blame game a lot:
Things would get better if . . .
. . . parents placed a higher value on their children.
. . . more people would step up and volunteer.
. . . my pastor understood how important kids’ ministry is.
This type of thinking does not get you anywhere.
You do need people to help you minister to the kids, but people will not follow you just because you think they should.
A proactive person does not focus on the things he can’t control. Don’t waste time getting angry about things you can’t control.
What are some areas that you do have control over?
- Your Thoughts.
You have total control over your thoughts. Think about what you are thinking about.
Are you constantly thinking negative thoughts about yourself? I had a huge battle in this area because I grew up in a negative environment.
Choose to hang out with people who are positive and make you feel good about yourself.
- Your Words.
Words are powerful. You can use your words to build people up or to tear people down.
- The Kids
You are the person who has the most influence over the kidmin program.
Quit whining about people that don’t see your vision.
Make the children’s ministry the most exciting ministry in the church. Only you can do this. Nobody is going to do it for you.
One day my pastor announced in a staff meeting that he had booked a special speaker for a New Year’s Eve service.
The service was starting at 8:00 p.m. and going until midnight. I was not happy about having to plan a four-hour kids’ service in the middle of the holidays.
My first thought was self-pity, which then led to anger.
After I got over my pity party, I got a great idea. What if I planned a New Year’s Eve lock-in for the kids? I had to be at church anyway, right?
I ran the idea by my pastor, and he liked it. Instead of trying to babysit the kids for four hours, we planned a big party.
Parents dropped off their kids at church at 8:00 p.m.
At 10:00 p.m., we loaded up on a bus and took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese. We had all the pizza they could eat, all the pop they could drink, and all the video games were free. At 2:00 a.m., we reloaded the buses and went back to church for a lip-sync contest. Eventually, the kids rolled out their sleeping bags. Kids, parents, and volunteers all had a blast; so we made it an annual event.
A successful kids’ pastor is proactive.
You don’t have time for a pity party. Stop thinking about all the things you can’t control, and pour your energy into the things you can control.
3. Vision Casting and Goal Setting
All leaders are visionaries. While vision casting and goal setting are not the same—they are connected.
Vision is simply the desired future. What do you see?
As believers in Christ, vision is not just something we imagine. It’s something that comes from heaven. We want to be able to say with the Apostle Paul, “I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven” (Acts 26:19 NIV).
Proverbs 29:18 KJV says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Churches need to have a vision for their kids, or their kids will perish. We will lose the next generation! This is why vision is so important.
Goal Setting is a way to measure progress toward what you see in the future, not just for you—for your entire team.
Goal setting is important because it is highly motivating for your team to set some goals and then accomplish those goals. Unlike anything else, this gives your team confidence in your leadership.
Here is how I cast vision with my team:
- I have one meeting every year specifically for vision casting.
- I do this on a Saturday morning in January.
- Before I cast the vision for the coming year, we look at the vision from the year before and measure our progress. (I don’t always accomplish every goal on the list, but I do accomplish most of them.)
- I cast the vision for that year illustrated with a Power- Point™ presentation.
This communicates to everyone that we do what we say we are going to do, and it creates momentum.
4. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
To survive in kids’ ministry, you need to learn the leadership skill of delegation.
As the kids’ pastor, you have responsibility for ministry in multiple classrooms happening simultaneously, plus ministry to parents and first-time visitors, overseeing volunteers, and the constant need to recruit new volunteers. To make matters worse, all this is happening at the same time—on Sunday morning.
If this sounds stressful, it is; but only if you do it by yourself. The solution to this dilemma is to spread your leadership around by delegating to others.
For example, if you enjoy teaching first through fifth graders, you need to find good people to greet new parents, process check-in, oversee your volunteers, and teach the other classes.
Figure out what you are good at, and delegate the rest.
You don’t have to be good at everything. There are people in your church who are good at the things you are not.
My pastor says, “Delegate everything you can delegate.”
The more you delegate, the more it frees you up to be creative, and it gets someone else connected. It also communicates to your leaders that you trust them.
Do not hesitate to ask people to do the things you can’t or don’t have time for. This is the only way it may get done.
• Don’t be afraid of no.
In the past, I have not asked people to do things out of the fear of rejection. Hey, the worst they can say is no. If they say no, you haven’t lost anything. If you don’t ask; however, you will never hear yes.
• Don’t make decisions for people.
Some of my volunteers are stay-at-home moms. At times, I have felt guilty asking them to volunteer when I know they have many kids at home. I assumed that they didn’t have time to volunteer, but I learned not to make the decision for them. Your volunteers are big people. If they can’t do it, they will let you know.
• Delegation is not dumping.
There is a difference between delegation and dumping.
When you dump, you ask someone to do something and then never talk to him or her again. You assume it is done.
Delegation is not just getting through your to-do list. It is mentoring people. You need to stay in regular communication with people that you delegate to.
I spend a lot of my time communicating with people. It just comes with the territory. That’s why it’s critical to take the responsibility to communicate with your leaders, volunteers, and parents.
Let people know what is expected of them up front, and follow through. Before each weekend, I communicate with everyone on the schedule. I usually communicate by e-mail, but sometimes I call people if it is really important.
I have found that my teenage volunteers don’t use e-mail. The best way to communicate with young people is by text or Facebook.
My point is that people communicate in different ways, but I take the responsibility to make sure communication happens. For example, I don’t assume that communication happens just because I fired off an e-mail. If I don’t get a reply, then call to talk about the weekend.
Shouldn’t my volunteers be more responsible than that?
Maybe, but they are volunteers. They don’t have to be there.
The bottom line is I have fewer no-shows if I connect with people during the week. It also gives me an opportunity to speak into their lives.
Communication is a two-way street. It’s not only about what you have to say. Real communication happens when you understand each other, so build listening into your communication.
Did you know? This year, I released a brand new KidMin book called The Red Book that tackles this issue and more in its 45 chapters? This book is a step-by-step guide on how to develop an effective KidMin that brings life change to the kids you minister to on a weekly basis. Click here to claim your copy.
Not only has Mark served in the local church as pastor, associate pastor, and family ministry pastor but he is also a certified coach with the John Maxwell Team.