Stepping into a new position of leadership in kids ministry can be overwhelming. It may seem like there are thousands of things to think about and that there’s no good place to begin. Here are five helpful hints to help you get started on the right foot as you step into your new ministry role.
- Clarify expectations. — Setting, clarifying, and managing your expectations are the number one factor in regard to success and satisfaction in ministry, and in all of life. We bring our expectations into every situation, and every situation either meets, exceeds, or falls short of the expectation we bring. It is important to know that your leader, teammates and those you serve all have expectations for you in your role. It is important to communicate with your leader early to clarify what is expected of you. That way you can know that you are doing things that will meet or exceed his or her expectations for you.
- Determine what resources you have to work with. — Begin by taking a detailed inventory of the resources you have at your disposal. This may include actual items in a resource room or craft closet, but should also include notes about the facility, volunteers, and the level of moral and missional support that the kids ministry has within the church. It can be easy to focus on what you do not have, but it is important to not dwell on what is missing. List out all of the things that you do have and count them as assets. Begin building your strategy and growing your ministry around the things you already have in your arsenal. In addition to listing your assets, evaluate the condition of the resources you have and make note of items that may need replacing or upgrading soon. This will help when it is time to set a budget.
- Evaluate your team. — Take time to connect with your volunteer team as a group and as individuals to get to know their hearts and observe them in action to assess their contribution to the team. Sit in to watch your teachers teaching and helpers helping. As you assess your team you may find that some people are in roles that are not well-suited to their giftedness. Building relationships with your team and developing your own opinions about where they may serve best is crucial as you look to fill roles with current people and recruit new ones with specific skill sets to complement the group.
- Establish a contagious vision statement. — One of your primary roles as a leader is to cast vision and clarify purpose. Almost anyone can recite the ‘when’ of your ministry (Sunday morning at 9 and 11, Wednesday nights at 6:30), but very few (even leaders) can clearly articulate the ‘why.’ As a leader, it is essential that you identify the ‘why’ of the kids ministry in the unique context of your church. Everything you do will hinge on your why statement. For example, you may make very different decisions about the people you recruit and the resources you choose to use and the events you decide to host depending on whether your ministry targets depth of teaching for kids already inside the church or reaching unchurched kids in your community. Both are valid missions, but each may call for a different strategic plan of execution. Take time to draft and craft a brief mission statement for your kids ministry that can fit on a poster or a T-shirt or your email signature. As a bonus, when you recruit volunteers with a compelling and worthwhile ‘why’ they will stay longer and be more committed to the cause.
Avoid making big changes too soon. — You can pay a price for making big changes too quickly—even if those changes are necessary. It is wise to spend time assessing the situation yourself from the perspective of your new leadership position before making big decisions that will shock and shake your ministry area. Allow a few weeks or even a few months to build rapport, earn trust, and grow relational capital with your leaders, team, kids, and families. If big changes are necessary, they will be made best in the context of already solid relationships.
Chuck Peters is Director of Operations for Lifeway Kids. A graduate of Columbia Bible College, Chuck has served vocationally & voluntarily in Student and Children’s Ministry for many years.