Interviewing at a church for a kids ministry position can be exciting and frightening all wrapped up together. Both you and the church want to make sure that the fit is right because there is so much at stake. In addition to asking questions about the church itself—such as what is its theology—you will also want to ask questions about the church’s kids ministry that will give you the insight you need to make the right decision. Here are eight important questions to get you started:
- What is the kids ministry philosophy? Is it negotiable?
Is it a family-integrated model where age segmentation is eliminated pretty much completely. Adults, students, and kids attend Bible study together, worship together, and do events together. Or is it a family-based model where intergenerational gatherings connect the age segmented ministries together. Kids will be in classes with just kids, will attend events with just kids, and so forth, but there will also be events and classes that put kids, students, and adults together. This is more of a both-and approach. Or is it a family-equipping model where the age-segmented ministry structure is intact, but everything that is done is done with an eye on equipping families. (If you want to learn more about these approaches, see Perspectives on Family Ministry: 3 Views, edited by Timothy Paul Jones.)
No matter what the church’s ministry philosophy is, you will want to ask the follow-up question if it is negotiable. Here’s why. If your philosophy and the church’s do not align, you will need to know if you would need to defer to the church’s philosophy or not. That could be a deal-breaker. But even if they align, you will want to know how set the church is in that philosophy. Is it a true value of the church or is it more of a default? That will help you know what vision-casting might be needed if you accept the position.
- How does the pastor see the kids minister? The staff team? The church?
Put simply, would they see you as more of an equal or not? The truth is that many pastors, staff teams, and churches do not see kids ministers as they should—they are seen as second-tier staff members. They aren’t “real” staff members—they just keep the kids entertained. This is frustrating and it is wrong, but it is the reality for many churches. One of the best ways we can help our kids and families is by raising the bar in this area—working to help churches take our role seriously and giving it the weight it is due.
- What curriculum is being used. Why?
You can learn quite a bit about a ministry by its curriculum and the thought process that went into what is used. Was it chosen because it was fun? Cheap? Easy? Or was it chosen because it aligns with the church’s theology and the kids ministry philosophy? An important follow-up question is whether the church is open to changing curriculum and how that process would work.
- What regular programs are done. Why?
Does the church do VBS? Summer camps? Christmas and Easter programs and events? Are any of these expected—sort of sacred cows in the church? Have they been effective? How do they connect to the church’s vision and mission? As you know, events require tons of energy and resources. Many times they are worth it, but sometimes they are not. You need to know about all the events the church does before you walk into a potential minefield.
- How invested are the kids leaders in the ministry? Are they tired? Energized? Valued?
Committed, loving, godly leaders are the lifeblood of a healthy ministry. Be sure to get as good of a pulse on the ministry team as you can. If you accept the ministry position, getting to know your team and building into it would likely be your first step, and you would need to know what they need right away.
- How invested are families in discipling their kids? What has been done to encourage and equip them?
Leaders are the lifeblood of ministry, but families (parents, grandparents, guardians, etc.) are your greatest partners in discipling kids. Are they doing that? Have they been encouraged and equipped to do that? What would they need from you, the kids minister?
- What is the partnership between the kids ministry and student ministry like?
Far too many churches operate in silos to the detriment of kids, students, and families, and the church itself. What is the relationship like between ministries? Is it cohesive or are they disconnected? Are there strong transitions between them? Do they work together to help equip families?
- What wins would you want to see?
Don’t forget to ask some more practical questions too, such as this one. Finding out what wins are hanging out there will give you insight into what expectations you would be under and what the church really values. How this question is answered would also help you establish what to work on in your first 90 days.
Brian Dembowczyk is the managing editor for The Gospel Project. He served in local church ministry for over 16 years before coming to Lifeway. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his family live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.