My Top Failures As A Children’s Pastor

my top failures as a children's pastor
In over 30 years of Children’s Ministry, I’ve made a lot of mistakes.

I don’t have any regrets, but I I certainly have learned a lot of lessons along the way.

After reflecting on the last 30 years, I wanted to share some things I would do differently along the way.

Maybe it will be helpful to you in your journey.

The Top Five Things I Would Do Different

1. I would focus less time on the kids and more time on the volunteers.

For many years I focused almost entirely on the kids.

My thinking was the volunteers were there to help me, so I could pastor the kids.

This is a trust issue. I didn’t think that anyone could minister to the kids as well as I could.

This type of thinking limited my growth, the growth of my volunteers and the growth of the kids.

When you minister to kids through another leader you are double dipping.

The leader grows and the child grows too.

 

2. I would serve my youth pastor.

Most of us know that we need to serve the lead pastor, but youth pastors are an odd bunch.

I am ashamed to admit that in the early days, I butted heads frequently with the youth pastor.

We were not on the same page. He didn’t understand me and I didn’t understand him.

Think about it. Every child you are teaching is going into the youth ministry.

You need to do everything you can to make that a smooth transition for your kids.

 

3. I would focus more on helping kids connect with other kids and less time on preaching.

Preaching is important, but what kids want most at church is a friend.

If kids do not make friends at church they will not make the jump to youth ministry. Kids make friends in small groups and at special activities such as Lock-In’s and Hallelujah Harvest.

 

4. I would get more involved in other ministries at my church.

My passion was so strong for kid’s ministry I did not serve in other areas. This was a big mistake.

The primary way that the enemy works again KidMin Pastor’s is through isolation.

If you ever think thoughts like this, “The whole church is backsliding because somebody stole your DVD player.”  Then you need to get out more.

It is good mental health to connect with adults that do not just serve in the kid’s ministry. (It works better than Prozac.)

Another benefit if this is that you get to network with the parents of your church that are not involved in KidMin.

If you want to partner with the parents of your church then you need to hang out with the parents.

 

5. I would lead from the back of the room.

I like to preach, so I was doing most of the preaching early on.

I finally figured out that I don’t have to be the one at the front of the room to lead.

Jesus called us to make disciples. How did Jesus do discipleship?

He modeled ministry and then let the disciples take the lead. After three years they were on their own.

 

There you have it. The top five things I would do different.

What are some things you would do differently if you could?

Mark Harper

Pastor, Filmmaker and Coach, Mark Harper has over 30 years of experience in the local church. He is the creator of the Super Church 2.0 Curriculum, which is used in over 5,000 churches worldwide. The focus of Mark’s ministry is helping leaders build strong churches and helping parents build strong families.
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.
Mark Harper

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13 thoughts on “My Top Failures As A Children’s Pastor

  1. Mark Rasey says:

    Mark:

    What great advice for children’s leaders. You put emphasis more on discipleship of others than just relying upon your skills and abilities. Our church has operated in the “silo” ministry for years and just over the past few years broke free. I call it the
    “Faith Farmville Method of Ministry.” We focus on meeting needs of others and feed them with our ministry silos. Children’s pastors can feel responsible to be the one always feeding and filling the SILO to meet the need.
    Transformational and team driven ministry has become a welcome edition to our children’s ministry as well. I appreciate your leadership and leveling with us straight. We are always learners.

  2. Lara York says:

    Thank you – very uplifting and made me laugh about the whole church backsliding over the VCR. I’m still laughing!!
    We are doing some of these but I’m going to be more proactive and diligent in these areas.
    I am a very vocally stimulating (aka sometimes loud :D) teacher and one thing I noticed over the years is how very well children respond to the soft spoken teachers when they minister. They have their own anointing and I was always in awe (and sometimes envy, because they did not seem to have to work as hard) at their connection. However it taught me to 1)Not depend on me but my gifting. 2)Not overdo it. 3)Know that if I’m yielded, heart, mind and body (voice tones, actions etc) the Spirit of God can work and is.
    I love children more today than I did when I started 25 years ago and I love the ministry team that God has and is developing at our church.

    • Super Church says:

      Thank you Lara for sharing your heart with us. We laugh about the VCR thing, but it does happen – silly us. I appreciate your story and sharing how you are growing. You are a blessing. Debbie

  3. Winston Watson says:

    This is good advice. I’ve not been a children’s minister but the information is relevant to all of us in leadership. We only have one chance to do many of the things we do in this life, reflection, adjustment, redirection is always important.

    The principles you outline would be appropriately considered in all aspects of leadership in a ministry.

    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Debrah Brown says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. We often don’t realize the wonderful gifts that God has placed around us . It is so important as leaders not to keep our team in a box. We must release them to become builders outside the box, encouraging them to have an input, stimulating their creativity. This approach has helped me over the years as children’s pastor. I have a great team. We brainstorm and come up with solutions to make things happen. I often tell the team that I don’t have all the answers and i don’t want to do all the thinking not while I’m surrounded with all these wonderful gifts. This approach has been forever successful and we’ve gotten a whole lot done. I’ve seen very shy and reserved personalities become wonderful leaders and teachers!

  5. Jeanne Bowser says:

    Thank you all for sharing. We need more teamwork at our church and I am working on that; trying more to keep in touch with my workers, and build them up as leaders. I want to encourage them to step out more too. I like what Deborah said .” I don’t have all the answers and I don’t want to do all the thinking when I’m surrounded by all these wonderful gifts.”

  6. Jack Henry says:

    VCR? HA! How about coming in on Sunday morning and 3 of your sound packs have been taken by the band that plays in the adult services! The band does not like me very much right now. 🙂 Anyway, you have to lay the law down at times, but still, I am laid back. I’ve been in kids min now for 31 years and I have seen SO MUCH CHANGE. In fact, I was doing the changing back when it really freaked some people out (leaders) to change. But yes. Volunteers have to be in focus. I am splitting up my time as: 2/3 to kids… 2/3 to parents… 2/3 to volunteers. That’s the only way I can have a successful Family Ministry. Remember, kids min is family min.

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