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.
9 – Communicate
– 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.