20 Ministry Lessons Learned in 20 Years

lessons learned

Some of the most effective ministry lessons learned are learned from mistakes and in-the-trenches ministry experiences. If you are new in ministry, here are some tips from someone with 20 full-time years of kids ministry experience to help you avoid pitfalls and burnout in ministry. 

20 Children’s Ministry Lessons Learned

1 – The Gospel is the goal.
– You are not a cruise director.
– It is not about you.
– The Gospel changes lives for eternity, you don’t.
– Families can get moral lessons learned from books or the side of a fast food container. Morals aren’t what we are after, the Gospel is.

2 – Know where you are going.
– Figure out where you are going before you begin.
– Make sure everything you put on the calendar and in the budget has the end in mind.
– Keeping the end in mind helps you avoid detours and stick to an eternal itinerary.
– A finish line filter helps you say no.
     * Do you have a ministry vision statement that can serve as a guide and filter for where you are going?

3 – Quality vs Quantity
– A few well-planned, successful events are better than many half hearted, poorly planned events.
Families are busy. When you ask for their time, be prepared—make it Gospel-centered and make it count.
Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,”

4 – Realize you haven’t arrived.
– You don’t know all there is to know about ministry.
– You aren’t the greatest thing to hit the ministry world. People have been in the trenches long before you.
– Make sure you always have a teachable spirit.
– Listen more than you talk.
     * When is the last time you really listened to what God is doing in someone else’s life and ministry?

5 – Strategically surround yourself.
– Make sure your staff/leadership team are strong in the areas where you are weak.
– A well thought out team makes a more successful team.
– Allow your team to make you better. (Can you take corrective criticism?)
* What type of person is your ministry team missing?

6 – Partner with parents.
– Parent Champions – The first thing i did in a transition was create a parent champion team to evaluate and make a plan to move forward. Read more about that here.
– Make sure these parents will be prayerfully honest with you and are not just “yes” men and women.
– Parents help share your heart and vision with their peers, thus having a greater impact.

7 – Target the family. (There are 168 hours in a week. You may have the kids for one or two hours. Target the family for maximum kingdom growth.)
– What are you doing to reach the family as a whole?
Family worship (teaching like Jesus taught). Learn more about that here.
– Make sure to build a bridge from church to home.
* What takeaways are you giving families to talk through at home?

8 – Ministry to children and families with special needs
– Educate yourself and your team.
– Be prepared before the first family arrives (policies, space, intake forms, volunteers, etc.).
– Provide quality, Christ-centered care.

9Communicate
– Communicate often through various channels (constant contact, mail chimp, remind, facebook, instagram, twitter, ifttt, blog, snail mail, etc.).
– Just when you think you are bugging people, they are just getting the message. They need to see the message seven different times.
– If you are getting questions or have to have a FAQ section, have you really effectively communicated?

10 – Sabbath
Luke 5:16 – “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
– Jesus made time alone a priority, do you?
– An empty vessel has nothing to give.

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Danielle Bell
Danielle has over 21 years of children’s ministry experience with a passion to share, disciple, and shepherd children and families with the message of Jesus. She currently serves as minister to children at the Dawson Family of Faith in Birmingham, Alabama. Danielle is a respected children’s ministry leader and trainer and has spoken regionally at local churches and nationally at children’s ministry conferences. (CPC, ETCH, KidMin conference). She is a frequent contributor to Children’s Ministry Magazine (childrensministry.com) and is a curriculum writer for Gospel project kids (gospelproject.com/kids). Danielle currently serves as the children’s ministry content editor at churchleaders.com. Danielle was named by Children’s Ministry Magazine as one of the Top 20 children’s ministry leaders to watch. Danielle’s blog dWELL (dandibell.com) was named one of the top 100 kids ministry blogs by ministry-to-children.com