I had no idea in 1977 when I said yes to my pastor to covering Children’s Church for a Sunday that 38 years later I’d be writing this blog post. I also had no idea what God had in store for me. I’m thankful for all the wonderful doors, like this one that He would open. I am also thankful for the early years I had serving kids and families at Southside Assembly in Jackson, Mississippi. I’m still in contact with so many of those kids; it’s also hard to believe that those first 12-year-olds are turning 51 on their next birthday. (Thanks, Facebook, for making me feel old.)
In those early years I wish I had known to grow my leadership as well as my ministry. I understood that it was my job to help make healthy disciples. I understood the importance of training kids now for a lifetime of service in a local church. A huge mistake I made in the early years was focusing on the group of kids that made up my ministry and forgetting to have a healthy ministry with the adults that all kidmin leaders also have to work with: parents, (since not a single child in my ministry has a drivers’ license), adult leaders, and the level of leadership above you. A healthy leader raises their own abilities to communicate and lead all three groups of adults. It was years before I studied leadership and worked on growing my abilities. I remember when I wrote my first book Children’s Ministry Leadership back in 2003, children’s pastors told me, “I wish I could have learned this from you twenty-five years ago.” I always told them the same thing: “I wish I had known this stuff twenty-five years ago!” The truth is I had to choose to add leadership to my arsenal of puppets, costumes and magic tricks.
If I wanted to make healthy disciples I couldn’t do this without including parents. I wish I had known then what I know now: “What happens at home is more important than what happens at church.” The second thing I wish I had known was the importance of partnering with parents. You see, every teacher knows a child does better in school with help from their parents. This is also true with spiritual things. Healthy discipleship is a product of a healthy ministry that can be built by a team led by a healthy leader.
The third thing, I wish I had known was you have to build a team—not only build a healthy ministry but make healthy disciples. Those early years, I was a one-man show. I now know kids need other adults in their lives who will tell them the same thing their parents and YOU are saying about God. Besides that, you need a team to help you follow-up and care for kids. You can’t do it alone. Building a team calls for duplication as well as delegation.
As you work on your leadership, build a team and partner with parents, it helps you relate better and win the respect and trust of the leadership above you. That’s why I have dedicated the rest of my life to help younger leaders grow in these three areas. That’s why I created www.kidmincoach.com, theClub, my resources and Infuse. Every kidmin leader needs to know the difference leadership, partnering with parents and building a team makes. I wish I had and want to help you know these, too.