The year was 2000. If this happened to you, I’m sure you remember it. You got an email that simply said “I love you” in the subject line. Curious, you opened it and bam! Your computer was attacked by malware that was downloaded on your click. The virus overwrote your system files and spread itself over and over and over. At the time, Guinness World Record named it the most “virulent” computer virus of all time.
Since then there have been a number of viruses that have been unleashed to destroy people’s business and personal information. Some of the most infamous ones were MyDoom in 2004 with losses of $38 billion, Storm Worm in 2006 with losses still being calculated, Slammer with losses of $1 billion and Sasser & Netsky with losses of $38 billion.
CryptoLocker is the most recent virus and is a new strand called ransomeware. Ransomware is a virus that takes your files hostage. Released in 2013, CryptoLocker is spread through email attachments and encrypts the user’s files so they can’t access them. The hackers then send a decryption key in return for a sum of money. If you don’t pay up, you can lose all your files. In one month, the virus had over 500,000 victims and cost over $30 million dollars in losses.
Just as there are viruses that can hijack and destroy your computer, there are viruses that can destroy your children’s ministry. It’s important to watch for signs of them and know how to protect the ministry. Let’s take a look at five of the deadliest ones and how to prevent them.
The disunity virus can destroy your children’s ministry if left unchecked. It spreads through backbiting, competing visions, lack of communication, ministry silos and not following core values.
Unity doesn’t happen by accident. You have to fight for it. Protect it. Work for it. This means everyone being committed to a common vision that is empowered by a set of core values that everyone embraces and lives out. Unity doesn’t mean complete agreement on everything. But it does mean when there is a disagreement, the two parties talk it out face-to-face and stack hands before walking out of the room.
This virus works by lulling your ministry into a spiritual stupor. You lose your passion for reaching kids and families for Christ. You become comfortable with mediocrity. The baptistry being dry for weeks on end doesn’t bother you. The status quo is okay. Lukewarm is the temperature the ministries’ thermometer is set on. The light in the prayer closet is seldom on. The Bible is read by duty rather than by delight. Lack of growth is never questioned.
Complacency enters the ministry through complacent leaders. Everything rises and falls on leadership. Leaders must be a thermostat that set the spiritual temperature rather than a thermometer that just measures the temperature. Refuse to rest on your laurels. Refuse to accept the status quo. Get with God and get a fresh vision and passion for the ministry. Set some new goals that you’ll have to go outside of your comfort zone to reach.
This virus keeps you focused on the past to the point that it hinders you from moving forward. You know it’s present when you hear words like “we’ve never done it that way before” or “that program was started by Sister Johnson in 1968 and we can’t change it” or “people might not like it if we changed that.”
The past history of a children’s ministry is to be honored but it cannot set the agenda for the future. Every year, you’ve got to evaluate and take a hard look at each part of your ministry. Is it still effective? Is it helping us reach people? Is it still relevant?
BUSYNESS WITHOUT PRODUCTIVITY
This virus sneaks in and fills up your ministry calendar with lots of events, programs and other ministry happenings. It is sneaky in the fact that it makes the ministry very busy, but a closer look reveals there is not much productivity. Countless events are held, but very few families are reached. Volunteers, resources and program funding is stretched thin. The ministry becomes like a merry go round. Lots of noise and movement, but just going around in circles.
This virus can be prevented by carefully guarding your ministry calendar. Remember, less is more. Focus your volunteers, resources and program funding on a few things you can do well. You can stop this virus with one little, but powerful word: NO. Remember, what you say no to is just as important as what you say yes to. Sometimes you have to say no to something good so something great can happen.
You know this virus is trying to get in when you begin hearing words like “can’t” or “we already tried something like that and it didn’t work” or “we’re too small to do that” or “that’s a bad idea” or “what if we fail?” The negativity virus is usually spread by a few Debbie Downers who see life through a negative lens and want everyone else to wallow in their misery with them.
You can combat this virus by perpetuating a “I can do all things through Christ” attitude. Surround yourself with positive people. Place positive people in leadership. If you have a few people that are extremely negative, meet with them individually and let them know they are welcome to share their thoughts but they should come to you directly rather than talking sideways. If you determine someone’s negativity is starting to infect the entire team, it may mean asking them to step out of their role on the team.
You can also combat this virus by consistently sharing the praise reports and stories of how God is at work. When people see lives being changed and spiritual fruit happening, it will help overcome negativity.
Are any of these viruses trying to make their way into your children’s ministry? Is disunity trying to divide the ministry? Is complacency trying to pour cold water on your fire? Is dwelling on the past hindering the future of the ministry? Is the ministry busy, but not productive? Is negativity trying to hurt the ministry?
Expel these viruses. Don’t let them stop the ministry from fulfilling God’s calling and plan.
This article originally appeared here.