Children’s Ministers/Pastors Should Be LEADERS

Children's Ministers usually fall into one of three categories.  One category is that they aren't just children's ministers, but they're also student ministers or education directors and they're not really passionate about children's ministry anyway.  The problem there is obvious so we'll skip that for now.

The other two categories are people who are great with kids or people who are leaders.  Rarely can you find somebody who is both.  When I say "great with kids" I mean somebody who would be a great teacher/communicator to kids, a great small group leader, etc.  In other words, they're really good at doing children's ministry.  They're great people to have around because they set the bar high and are naturally gifted in that way. 

The problem is, they may not be leaders.  They'll do a great job of getting a new or struggling children's ministry growing because of the excellence in what they do but all of that will only last until more people are needed in order for the ministry to grow.  This is why churches should look for strong leaders when hiring children's ministers. 

In most churches, the children's ministry is the largest volunteer team.  In order to continue to grow and build that team you want a leader who can always take the team to the next level.  They do that by developing leaders who lead other leaders.  The create teams that they eventually step out of.  They delegate responsibility and not just tasks.  They invest heavily into a group of leaders. 

Children's Ministers who are excellent at doing children's ministry are a great fit for large churches that can hire them.  They'll help raise the bar of excellence and make sure that everybody is constantly thinking with the mind of a child during planning times.  But, churches shouldn't make the mistake of hiring an excellent doer when they need an excellent leader

In rare cases somebody is both, but that's far from the norm.  I don't claim to be either but I'm working on the leader aspect because the best I can offer as a doer of children's ministry is that I can easily act like a 7 year old…….even when not required to. 

Orange Tour Reflections – Part 2

In a previous post I shared some thoughts from our experience at the Orange Tour.  I mentioned that Jeff, my former-youth-pastor-now-friend-and-mentor came along.  Jeff was one of the 2 primary influencers in my life that helped lead me to follow Jesus as a teenager.  We recently started meeting together regularly as part of a mentor relationship.  Like most church pastors he is very busy and I appreciate the time he gives up for those meetings. 

It was cool to hang out with Jeff on the way up to the Orange TourJennifer and I both basically grew up in his student ministry.  Before our team left I let them know we would be meeting Jeff and he would ride up in our caravan.  I shared a little about the big influence he's had in my life.  He modeled the Christian life in a very real way and created environments in student ministry that I loved.  Up until that point church was very boring for me. 

At one point during the tour Reggie asked people to share some spiritual milestones in their journey.  Many people shared people who played a big role in their journey and Jennifer and I both thought about the fact that Jeff was that for us, and he was there with us.  I kept thinking that I hope our CCC Kids leaders know they could impact the life of a child the way Jeff has impacted mine.  And like Jeff, they have the opportunity to impact much more than one. 

Orange Tour Reflections – Part 1

A group of us went to the Orange Tour in Reading, PA this past weekend.  The group included 17 from CCC, 2 from Mosaic, and my former-youth-pastor-now-friend-and-mentor, Jeff.  Here are some thoughts about the tour:

  • I was really glad they came to the northeast where few church conferences take place
  • It was great to expose our team to the Orange philosophy
  • Reggie has a ton of wisdom that churches need to hear.  There needs to be more people like Reggie talking to churches who need "revolutionary change"
  • Finally met Carey Nieuwhof in person.  We talked through twitter and blog before but never met.  It's easy to see why he was able to lead his church through major changes because his great communication skills are coupled with a magnetic personality.  A bunch of people from our team commented on his passion and sincerity.
  • Got the chance to talk to Kevin Ragsdale again.  He has to be the best, yet lesser known student ministry director out there (of North Point Community Church).  I oringally met Kevin through a Dash Student Leadership consulting he did for us at my home church.  Something Kevin said played a big role in my decision to seek a full time ministry position.  It's always great to connect with him.
  • Our team got more of my dream for CCC Kids at the tour than they could have gotten from me in 3 years. 
  • I took a ton of notes and came home with about 20 things to add to the to-do list.  Only got the ball rolling on about 3 or 4 so far.  Our preschool team is coming up with a list of their own. 
  • Some from our team are interested in going to the Orange Conference in April.  I hope everyone who wants to go, can go (financially & schedule-wise).

Confront the Brutal Facts

Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith) is one of the chapter titles in Jim Collins' book, Good to Great.  In that chapter Jim talks about the importance of looking at your current situation without any bias or lack of clarity.  He contends that companies that made great decisions regularly were able to do so because they always took an honest look at their situation, even if that look was extremely painful. 

Thom Rainer's book, Breakout Churches, is patterned after Good to Great but instead shares the results of churchesthat went from good to great rather than businesses.  In that book, Rainer talks about the ABC Moment where churches experience a wake-up call and realize things aren't great, or sometimes even good.  ABC stands for Awareness, Belief & Crisis which Thom says are the steps that church leaders go through during that wake-up call. 

Breakout Churches talks about interviewing numerous church members and leaders who denied that their churches had any problem when in fact their churches had been in decline for years.  But, they weren't bold enough to confront the brutal facts and as such will be mired in mediocrity until they do. 

At CCC we definitely confront the brutal facts.  We spent an hour last week in staff meeting talking about how to get the best information possible about something we do regularly.  We want to gauge the effectiveness of it.  As best we can tell, it seems to be a great idea but we never want to assume that.  Up until now we haven't been able to track the effectiveness of it but we discussed a plan for how to do that from now on. 

I wish more churches would have enough faith to confront the brutal facts and then have the courage to act on what they find.  I believe their denial will trap them into being ineffective and will waste a lot of untapped potential.  CCC Kids team members, plesae don't ever let me shy away from the brutal facts!