When people think of kids ministry they often picture a smiling teacher telling a bible story to a small group of eager children sitting in a circle on colorful floor mats. Others may envision a high-energy leader unpacking biblical truths from a lighted stage dressed out with brightly-colored kid-themed decorations. In both cases, the kids pastor is seen primarily as a teacher who is gifted at communicating biblical concepts to kids. While most Kids Ministers are teachers by nature, kidmin insiders know that teaching time is only one small piece of the job. When full-time Kids Ministers look at where their time goes many realize that in a typical week less than 10% of their energy is spent in direct interaction with children. The other 90% of the work week is often spent alone, in an office, at a desk, on the phone or behind a computer in activity that we might categorize as administrative. This includes things like strategic planning, budgeting, recruiting volunteers, reviewing policies, attending staff meetings, curriculum review and selection, and lesson preparation. These unglamorous tasks require a different kind of giftedness that many teachers lack. Many find these activities to be boring, draining and unfulfilling necessities of the job.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul explains that God gives His people a variety of different gifts for the purpose of facilitating effective ministry. Within the longer list which includes healing and evangelism, Paul includes both teaching and administration. Because God gives them both, we can conclude that both are important to the work of ministry. Still, the idea that administration and administrative tasks are a key part of ministry is something that we can easily overlook.
By definition, administration is the management of an office, business or organization. It involves giving direction and oversight. It is leadership from an organizational point of view. You might say that ministers administer ministry through administration. So, in addition to being gifted communicators, the most effective kidmin leaders are strong administrators. This means they are able to be well-organized, strategic-minded, vision-casting, direction-oriented, equippers of teams. Many who come to kids ministry because they enjoy engaging with kids struggle with the administrative parts of their positions. If you feel this way, you are not alone. But, before you excuse yourself from administrative duty because you believe you lack the gift of administration, remember that spiritual gifts are given as assets, not excuses. Those who possess the gift of evangelism may see incredible results when they share the Gospel, but we are all called to proclaim the good news of Christ whether we have the ‘gift’ of evangelism or not. Similarly, everyone in vocational ministry is responsible for some amount of administration. So what can you do if you have a hard time with administration? Here are a few words of encouragement to get you going.
1 – Don’t neglect it.
One of the biggest mistakes one can make when faced with challenging tasks that are ‘not fun’ is to avoid them altogether. When important things are left undone over time they grow into bigger problems. If you have administrative tasks that you have been putting off, let me encourage you to address them right away. In the short term you may feel like you are winning by avoiding the difficulty of doing the task, but delaying the job will only cause you more stress and harm your ministry in the long run. If you have been avoiding your expense report, putting off a revision of your kids ministry policy documents, or delaying a decision on curriculum, make the choice to make progress right away and take action. The best time to get started is now.
2 – Chip away at it.
When papers start to stack up, the thought of getting to the bottom of your In Box can seem impossible. Don’t be overwhelmed by trying to do everything at once. Prioritize what needs to be done and start with one task that you can complete today. Financial guru Dave Ramsey teaches a strategy of eliminating debt by attacking one big bill at a time. When the first is paid off, you move to the next. While you may need to do some multitasking to keep all of your plates spinning, if you function with a complete lack of focus you will have a hard time completing anything. Line up those tasks and take them on one by one. You will find wind in your administrative sails as you scratch them of your to-do list.
3 – Work at it.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that ministry should be easy just because you are called to it. In fact, scripture is clear that ministry is work. Ephesians 4:12 says in regard to the purpose of spiritual gifts, that they are given, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.” 2 Timothy 2:15 says that you are to be, “a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed.” Ministering within your giftedness can be extremely satisfying and energizing, but a lot of ministry will require strenuous effort. We must do them anyway. If the task is hard, we work harder and trust God to give us wisdom and endurance to do what needs to be done to answer the call.
4 – Recruit for it.
Lets not forget that ministry is a team effort. You were never meant to do the work of ministry alone. Just because you do not personally have a gift does not mean you do not have access to that gift. As you build your team for ministry, it is wise to surround yourself with co-laborers who complement your own giftedness. Don’t try to do it all by yourself; you will end up exhausted and burned out. Recruit trustworthy, qualified, gifted people to your team and empower them to offset your areas of weakness under your guidance.
The gifts of teaching and administration are different and distinct, but the work of both teaching and administration is absolutely essential in ministry. In a nutshell, administration is about ownership, stewardship, and leadership. When you look at it that way, you may find that you are better at it than you had thought, and with a little strategy, you’ll find that administration can be a fun and fulfilling part of your ministry.
Chuck Peters is Director of Operations for Lifeway Kids. A graduate of Columbia Bible College, Chuck, and his wife, Cris, have served vocationally & voluntarily in Student and Children’s Ministry for many years. They have four amazing children.