Someone who is called to ministry senses that God desires for him or her to devote their life to serving His Church. When you begin as a new children’s ministry leader, here are some places to focus.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Ephesians 4:1-6 NIV™

We begin here. The significance of the spiritual work that you are about to embark on must first prompt you to pause and reflect on God and His Scripture. The work you have been placed in His Kingdom to do can only go as far as you follow Him.

Understanding the weight and gravity of God’s work is heavy. But rest in the truth that He, the Creator of all things, placed great gifts in you as His follower. Allow humbleness, a gentle spirit, patience, and love to permeate all that you do and say.

Remembering how you got here will be an inspirational life jacket when you experience some of the tough days and seasons ahead. When the heavy wind, rain, and those chopping waves come (and they will come), your memory of His calling you will stand like a strong lighthouse pointing you back to the truth.

New Children’s Ministry Leader, Look Before You Leap

One of ministry’s most beautiful and active words is “change.” Change can be stressful, unnecessary, premature, and reckless. Change can also be fluid, necessary, and purposeful. The execution and timing of change is most critical.

Rest in the truth that He, the Creator of all things, placed great gifts in you as His follower.

As you begin a new ministry, resist the temptation to leap into changes before you have done the work of observing and listening—asking key volunteers, parents, staff members, and yourself the right questions.

Start by asking yourself some questions:

  • Why do we do our Sunday morning programming/teaching this way?
  • What is God calling us to? What is our vision?
  • Does our current setup lead us to His call? Are we on mission?
  • How do our volunteers, children, and families respond to change?
  • How can I help facilitate the change needed in order to get us on track with our vision?

Grab coffee and a safe spot with the “gatekeepers” of the church’s historical knowledge. Gatekeepers are the people who inhabit history and context. When you meet with them, ask good questions, listen, take notes, listen even closer, and begin to measure and analyze what you’ve heard.

It’s About People

When I speak with leaders, I am often reminded of these simple, yet powerful, words by author Hans Finzel in his book Top 10 Mistakes Leaders Make. He says, “It’s about people not programs.”

At the core of what we do, it’s about the people we serve. God has called us to ministry to point others to Him. He uses each of us as His vessels to share His Word and His love.

When this gets hard is when you feel the pressure and expectancy of leadership to create the best children’s and family ministry in your community.

You can only create, craft, architect, and build a thriving ministry by recognizing early on that this will be accomplished and sustained by placing people above programs and God’s vision for your ministry above any background noise.

If Christ is our example of leadership, we need to study Him closely through the gospels.

Following Jesus as a New Children’s Ministry Leader

We see first and foremost His Father’s business was not filled with staff meetings outside the synagogue walls, programming at the Sea of Galilee, or even budget forecasting meetings with an ocean view.

Jesus was at work by being present, eating meals, and taking long walks where He was spending time loving on people as He engaged in creating community and relationship. This isn’t to negate programming. Much of our programming supports the God-given vision to teach children about the good news of Jesus, about who He is, so that they can experience Him and develop relationship with Him.

Programming is not wrong. But it’s specifically right when it is used to assist in loving and leading people. As a new children’s ministry leader, you have the opportunity to set this course.

I can just hear Jesus asking, “Byron, how’s your prayer life, what does it look like? Who are you discipling? I see the heart and soul of your wayward son or daughter. How can I pray for them and you?”

The theological truth is Jesus already knows the answers but wants to ask the questions! He wants relationship with us. Follow Jesus as you lead and everything else will be done well.

Man with arms crossed while smiling
Credit:Getty Images/DigitalVision/Morsa Images

Become Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

I respect and applaud ministry leaders who read, go to conferences, and listen to podcasts. We all become more like Jesus and lead better when we lean into other leaders and work on our leadership development.

Networking and collaborating conversations are imperative. Regardless of your comfort level, I want to encourage you to reach across your city to a few churches where your co-laborers minister and gather for prayer, inspiration, ideation, and even reminding others of their calling.

Connection with others who stand where your stand, who have felt the weight of ministry, who have seen God move can give your mind, heart, and soul great comfort and encouragement. Imagine what the Church could do together. Keep plowing forward!

Imagine what the Church could do together.

Keep the Gospel at the Center

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

Romans 1:16 NIV™

Please print this passage from your favorite translation and frame it in your office and recite daily!

Over the last several years I have been grieved and often wondered how Father God and Son Jesus see Christ followers and His Church with the respect, teaching, preaching, and handling the Gospel.

And when I speak of the Gospel, I’m speaking of His Holy Bible.

Do we really handle it like it is Holy? It is this Gospel that God gave His only Son for to die in my place so that I might live forever! Has there ever been a greater love than this?

But I see the Gospel being pushed to the margins, the edges, in a lot of ways. It’s been moved—or in some cases removed—and must be moved back to the center, the core. Keeping the Gospel at center is an exercise where you measure programming, Sunday school curriculum, VBS curriculum, parenting resources, volunteer resources, and all other resources for your ministry.

If you can without any doubt claim God’s Word is at the center in all your ministry expressions, you’ll find that you’re in a great place! If the answer is any different, sound the alarm, throw away anything without it, and recenter on it. One doesn’t have to look far to find resources that embrace the Gospel unapologetically.

If not for the Gospel, why then do we do what we do?

Here We Go!

As you begin to run in your calling, remember these things:

  • Follow God and don’t veer off for pretty strategies, distractions, or anything else. Stay right in His footsteps.
  • Look before you leap. As you make changes, make sure you’re making the right ones.
  • It’s all about people. Follow Jesus’ example of what leadership should look like.
  • Get comfortable with the uncomfortable and make community with other leaders who you can learn from and grow together with.
  • Keep the Gospel at the center—where it was always meant to be.