by Adam Bayne
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Editor: this post was adapted with permission from Adam Bayne’s Blog.
A friend once sent me an email asking me the following questions about kids ministry. Here’s how I responded:
1. What are 3 big challenges kids ministry leaders are facing right now?
A. Volunteer Recruitment
a. Branding recruitment
One thing we have done at our church is brand a recruitment strategy. Since launching it, the idea of volunteer recruitment has become almost tangible. Branding a recruitment strategy helps keep a focus on the need to recruit consistently.
b. Leading up
If you are at a church with low volunteers across the board, that is a culture problem and you need to change the culture. Ministry leaders need to help their lead pastors and executives understand that a “church culture” problem is a problem they have helped foster and need to work with their team to deal with it. Who has the greatest impact on a church’s culture other than Christ and the staff as a whole? The individuals at the top.
Pastors need to partner with ministry leaders through their messages and by allowing ministry leaders stage-time to help lead the people away from a “consumer” mindset to a place of empowerment that flames the fires for a church to rise up with a servant’s heart. Our church is now at this place and God is doing incredible things, but it has taken years of ministry leaders investing in their leadership. Leading up is tough . . . it takes a long time.
For kids ministry leaders I think this is a huge challenge because we are usually pushed into the background when it comes to having a voice at the church leadership table. But lead pastors and executives need to understand that we lead the most difficult ministry in church and any kids ministry leader that has been effective for even just a few years has proven that they are amazing. So kids ministry leaders need to learn to fight for their place at the table. It won’t take long for lead pastors and executives to realize what’s up.
c. One on One Recruitment
One on One recruitment is the best way to recruit . . . but what the kids ministry staff and I learned is that in order to develop a strong culture of one on one recruitment within our ministry we must be recruiting one on one ourselves. Every month my staff and I need to be recruiting at least one person on our own. Then, and only then, can we go to our volunteers and encourage them to do the same.
B. The pressure of doing too much
Kids ministry leaders have tons of pressure to do events outside of Sundays. We must learn to say no and only do the events that are especially effective. We have to make sure that we are not doing too many events because in reality the same volunteers that pour their hearts out on Sundays are the ones who step up to help run events. When we do too many events we lose focus on what’s most important, the Sunday morning experience, we exhaust our team, and we exhaust our resources. At our church we have cut events for the next two years in preschool and K thru 5th except for an Easter Event, a Preteen Camp, and Trunk or Treat. Other than that we’ll pour into Sundays and make them as epic as possible.
C. Parent Partnership
We’ve had to focus on the three points below:
a. Streamline take-home tools as much as possible. Start by asking parents directly what tools they want from the church to help them invest in their children during the week.
b. Keep it simple and practical. The birth of a true partnership between church/home consists of parents knowing their child’s small group leader and parents using take-home tools that are effective. No need to make it more complicated.
c. Maintaining realistic expectations. We can’t expect for every parent to partner with us exactly how we want them to. Some of our parents don’t even use our take-home tools at Grace, but yet they are reading the Bible together as a family every night, that’s awesome! Some parents are new to church so just seeing them every Sunday is a win. They might not do anything during the week, but at least they are showing up! That’s worth celebrating!
2. Where do you think curriculum companies are getting it right when it comes to helping you be more effective? Where are they missing it?
Getting it right:
a. Creating take-home tools for parents
b. “Upping” the production in videos, worship music for kids, and media slides for large group experiences
c. Curriculum companies across the board are understanding the need for a balanced approach of offering epic material for large group and small group experiences
a. Sometimes in a curriculum’s desire to be fun and cool they bypass the need to keep it simple and focus on the core of what a growing follower of Jesus needs to experience. A solid understanding of our faith in Jesus, time to explore God’s Word and an understanding that our lives need to be engulfed in His truth, the power of prayer, and so on and so forth.
b. I think most curriculum tries to expose truths that are over a child’s head. They are getting ahead of themselves. Why focus so much energy on character traits when a child doesn’t even understand the cross? In today’s culture, even “churched” kids do not have a firm understanding of who Jesus is, the power of prayer, and what it looks like to pursue Jesus and develop a growing relationship.
3. If there was another online blog / website with content & resources you were going to follow, what is something they could do to provide a “wow” experience that exceeds expectations for you and others in kids ministry?
I can’t stand fluff (part of the reason why I no longer care for most conferences these days). Blogs that express general ideas about kids ministry are a waste of my time. I want to read about practical stuff presented by leaders on staff or volunteers in the trenches at a church focusing on the nuts and bolts of what’s working well in their ministry and how they put it together. Or maybe blogs about what not to do, failures for the rest of us to learn from.
How would you answer some of these questions?
Adam Bayne pastors at Abba’s House in Chattanooga, TN, and has been working with children for the past 15 years, he started in the public school before moving into ministry. He believes parents are more important influences in children’s lives than pastors and seeks to partner with them accordingly.
He’s a heavyweight Disney nerd, lightweight sports fan, & total fanatic when it comes to his wife (Marissa) & daughters (Emma and Ava). You can follow him on Twitter.