No, you’re probably not going to get your lead or executive pastor teach Kids’ Church for you. And they probably won’t get too involved in planning your events.
And they shouldn’t!
And you might feel a little intimidated at asking church leadership to engage with children’s ministry. But church leadership can and should be engaged with children’s ministry. By that I mean they should be informed and invested in what’s going on with a significant part of the church they lead. And they should always have an open invitation to engage in positive ways.
Here are some ways to do just that:
1. Do your job.
When we do our job (leading children’s ministry), it frees them from worrying about making sure it’s done. This actually enables them to engage (when they can and want to) in positive ways in our ministry. When we aren’t doing our job, it forces them to engage in negative ways (to solve the problems we’re creating).
2. Be excited about children’s ministry.
As ridiculous as it sounds, as I work with children’s ministry leaders around the country, I’m amazed at how “unexcited” many are about what they are doing. All I hear in conversations with them is how hard it is, how frustrated they are about the lack of volunteers, the fact they don’t have enough resources, blah, blah, blah …
I want to tell them (and usually do, as kindly as I can): “Get over it!” If we can’t be excited about what we’re doing, then how do we expect anyone else to? Attitude leaks … positive or negative. Good luck getting church leadership engaged with a negative attitude.
3. Share positive stories.
If you are excited about your ministry, you’re going to pretty easily identify stories of life change you can share. So share them—with church leadership. Don’t focus on the negative (except at the appropriate times when those things are on the table for discussion), but rather, share the stories of kids coming to Christ, of parents engaging in ministry or of how your team has reached out to the community. Your church leadership is made up of human beings, and just like all of us, they will respond to the things that push their buttons. Find those buttons and tell stories to push them.
4. Inform them of positive activity.
Following close behind #3 is informing church leadership of what’s going on in children’s ministry. I found that a quick update in staff meeting or a brief, weekly email to my pastor works great. Focus on how your vision is being fulfilled within the context of the churches vision. Focus on growth. Focus on life-change (this might be the forum to tell your stories). Leave the negative and the needs to a separate conversation at the appropriate time.
5. Invite them to engage.
How do you engage anyone in your ministry? You invite them. It’s no different with church leadership. Find small ways they can engage: a quick video message for the kids; show up at volunteer training to thank volunteers; help you solve a critical people problem; thank the team from the pulpit for a job well done; or make a cameo in the opening session of VBS.
Key #1: Invite without expectations. When we tie expectations to our invitation, we leave ourselves open for disappointment. But if we lay a foundation for them—a foundation that is positive and exciting as something they would want to be part of and feel they can contribute to and benefit from (just like anyone else we invite)—and then leave an open invitation for them, we are far more likely to capture their engagement.
Key #2: Invite consistently. They won’t be able to take you up on every invitation. When you first start, it might be something they see as “too much” and turn you down. They may think you’re asking for a lot more than you really are. That’s OK … keep doing steps 1–4 and consistently offer the invitation (without expectation), and you might be surprised to see that at some point your church leadership enthusiastically engages with your ministry.