For the first few years of my ministry, I served on an island. Unfortunately, it was not a tropical island—it was an isolated island of my own making.
I didn’t have a support network, and I had done nothing to create one. Honestly, I didn’t even think I needed one.
I was young and dumb enough to think I didn’t really need anyone else in ministry. I thought I had it all together.
But it didn’t take long for me to learn that doing ministry that way is lonely and not at all how God designed any of us to serve.
In Philippians 1:3-5, Paul says, “I give thanks to my God . . . because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
Paul was one of the most influential ministers of all time, and he needed partnership with people.
So do you and I.
A Circle Within Your Church
Ministers often feel that they have to keep a certain amount of distance from those in their congregation. Maybe they are afraid that people will see their flaws or that they will be viewed as showing favoritism.
If you study Jesus’ relationships, however, you will quickly see that He didn’t feel the need to keep that distance.
He had hundreds who followed Him, but there were twelve who were especially close to Him. Within that twelve, He had Peter, James, and John who were part of an even closer circle.
You need a team of people who are living and breathing kidmin with you. It is not healthy for you alone to make all of the decisions and know all of the things.
The question, “What if you got hit by a bus?” is a little gruesome, but what if something happened that made it impossible for you to do what you do for a season?
Is the ministry totally dependent on you?
Beyond the logistical implications, you need people for your well-being. You need a team of people who celebrate the wins with you. And you need people to talk to and debrief the fails that inevitably happen.
You need people who are invested in your ministry—people who want to brainstorm and problem solve with you.
Beyond that, you need friends. The church is not just your workplace, it is your church family. You need community just like everyone else.
You need people who you can go to lunch with and laugh with. And you need people who you feel safe enough to be authentic with.
You need people who will hold you accountable and help you grow in Christ.
A Circle Within Your Community
Too often those of us within the church view other churches as “the competition.”
Whether we verbalize it or not, this competitive vibe causes us to remain in our own circles and not connect with those at other churches. It is silly. We are on a mission to build God’s kingdom, not our own silos.
Unless you are in a town with a population of twenty-five, there are plenty of kids and families for every church to reach.
When I finally took the step to reach out and connect with other children’s ministries in my area, I quickly realized what a treasure I had been missing.
I really, really liked these people—we were like-minded. They got me. They understood the unique elements of living life in children’s ministry.
These were my people, and I almost missed out on them.
Aside from the personal aspects, this local circle has been advantageous to my ministry. Being able to communicate with leaders just down the street helps me identify community patterns.
I can quickly text out a question and determine if a situation is unique to my church or something the whole community is dealing with.
Connecting Makes Ministry More Effective
About a month after a hurricane came through our area, our church noticed a dip in attendance. I assumed it was just us until I met with my local children’s ministry friends.
We discovered that all of our churches were experiencing this, which led us to pray and seek to identify what was going on in the community as a whole.
Along the same lines, we are able to pool resources. We can do more together than we can in competition with each other.
Five of our community churches began working together to host a day camp for our city. We have also helped each other find childcare workers for special events.
When we become aware of a family in need, we can easily check with each other to determine what information they might have.
Connection with others in your area is invaluable.
A Circle within the Broader Kidmin Community
There is a wealth of knowledge available from leaders from churches of different sizes, denominations, and parts of the country.
When you have a circle of kidmin people who are outside of your church and your community, you can truly expand your leadership.
You will face ministry challenges that your church and community have never faced before. Chances are great that someone, somewhere has.
The more connections you have in the kidmin world, the more resources you have for brainstorming.
Another benefit is sometimes there are things that you need to talk through that you can’t discuss with a church member or someone within your community.
Some friends and I often start Sunday morning texts with “Things I can’t tweet . . .” and share something quirky or frustrating that we have encountered.
It’s amazing how refreshing it is to have that safe place.
Additionally, this safe place is an incredible source of encouragement.
I’m grateful for my ministry friends from all over the country. They are my go-to people when I have a prayer need or am in a season of discouragement.
All of these relationships require us to step out of our comfort zones. We must be willing to be real with others.
Take the hard step of picking up the phone or sending a Facebook message to reach out to someone else. Be the one to initiate new relationships.
Ministry is always more fun—and more fruitful—when done alongside others.