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Children’s Ministry Leadership: 7 Essential Qualities

children's ministry leadership

As with any other area of the church, programs aimed at children require strong, effective leadership. Solid children’s ministry leadership teams make great children’s ministries possible.

Do you feel called to children’s ministry leadership? Or maybe you want to improve as a leader? What qualities should be in your personal DNA? What qualities do you need to focus on and seek to grow in?

I made a list of seven important skills for children’s ministry leadership. The list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a great place to start. Read through them and then take some time to ponder the self-reflection questions. Also write down action steps you can take to improve in each area of children’s ministry leadership.

7 Must-Have Children’s Ministry Leadership Skills:

1. Innovation

As the leader, it’s important to be able to consistently generate fresh, new ideas for the ministry. This keeps the program from getting stale or falling into a rut. At times you’ll need to reinvent the ministry to keep it relevant.

Being innovative doesn’t mean the entire children’s ministry leadership team needs to be creative geniuses. In fact, the best way to bring innovative new ideas to the table to is have everyone around the table work together to create the ideas. Innovative leaders know how to pull the best ideas out of the group.

Ask yourself:

  • How do I keep the ministry fresh and exciting? How can I improve at this?
  • Do I bring key leaders together to brainstorm new, innovative ideas? How can I improve in this area?
  • Do I lead through change by example? Am I willing to let go of the sacred cows (even if they’re ones I created) so the ministry can stay relevant?

2. Passion

The passion level of the ministry will never rise above your personal level of passion. A children’s ministry leader must be able to stand before kids, families, parents and volunteers and then communicate with passion. You must be a thermostat rather than a thermometer. The difference? A thermostat sets the temperature. A thermometer only measures the temperature.

Sharing the ministry’s vision should cause people’s hearts to beat faster. That happens only when they see and feel passion from you, as the children’s ministry leadership. Passion isn’t taught; it’s caught. In my book If Disney Ran Your Children’s Ministry, I share the story of when Walt Disney tried to convince the financial board to provide the money to build Disneyland. Here’s what happened:

“As he stood before the board, he admitted it was hard for them to envision Disneyland the way he could, but he assured them, ‘There’s nothing like it in the world. I know because I have looked. That’s why it can be great: because it will be unique. A new concept in entertainment, and I think…I know…it can be a success.’ When he finished there were tears in his eyes. The members of the board were persuaded.” 

Disney parks exist today, as the world’s number-one vacation destination for families,  because of one man’s passion. If Walt could be that passionate about building the Magic Kingdom, how much more should we, as leaders, be passionate about building God’s kingdom!

Ask yourself:

  • Am I a thermostat or a thermometer? How can I improve in this?
  • What gets me fired up and passionate about children’s ministry?
  • What are some ways I can raise my personal passion for the ministry?

3. Self-Awareness

For effective children’s ministry leadership, team members need to identify their strengths and weaknesses. They also should know their personality type,  spiritual gifts, peak productivity times, warning signs about being stretched too thin, and so on. Leaders must be committed to growing personally in all these areas.

They also gather people around them to help with the quality of self-awareness. These people help them see their blind spots, hold them accountable for their words and actions, and provide tools for becoming more self-aware.

Ask yourself:

  • How self-aware am I? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? Am I working to improve myself?
  • Do I have people around me who help me see my blind spots and hold me accountable?
  • What steps can I take to continue growing personally as a leader?
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Dale Hudson has been serving in children's ministry for over 30 years. He is an author, speaker and ministry leader.  He is the founder and director of Building Children's Ministry. BCM helps churches build strong leaders, teams and children's ministries.  (www.buildingchildrensministry.com)