Children’s pastor searches are the most difficult searches there are. In fact, when I started Vanderbloemen Search Group to help churches find their staff, I wanted to solely focus on senior leader searches because children’s pastor searches were so difficult.
I’ll never forget the day I was at Catalyst Conference in California when I heard Kay Warren say, “If you are not doing something with your ministry to welcome children into the Kingdom, then you must not be a Christian.”
This was the day that I knew God was calling our firm to continue to help churches find their children’s pastors, no matter how difficult they may be. Our team at Vanderbloemen was up for the challenge because we believed that children’s ministry is the growth engine of the church. Over 500 searches later, our team has become experts at identifying highly effective children’s pastors who are the right cultural and theological fit for their church.
Here are five characteristics of highly effective children’s pastors:
1. They are a leader of leaders.
The number one characteristic we are asked to find in children’s and family pastors is a leader of leaders.
Effective children’s pastors are not on staff to merely fill a role. They are leaders, laser focused on building the best team possible to reach their church’s families for Christ.
What does it look like practically to be a leader of leaders in children’s ministry? Leadership development of their volunteers and team members is their primary focus. They develop volunteers as fully functional leaders. They delegate and don’t abdicate. They cast the vision for their team to keep their eye on the mission at hand. They develop and implement a volunteer strategy that can help them recruit, retain, and train volunteers and ultimately grow the children’s ministry.
2. They are creatively resourceful.
Children’s ministry is often the most under resourced ministry in the church. Mediocre children’s pastors think, “I wish I had more money.” Highly effective children’s pastors think, “How can I maximize the money and resources I have to make this the best children’s ministry possible?”
Highly effective children’s and family pastors think outside the box to innovate within their ministry. They experiment with curriculum and ideas to help their kids better engage with the gospel.
What does it look like practically to be creatively resourceful in children’s ministry? Effective children’s pastors aren’t afraid to change things up. They can’t stand the phrase, “This is the way we’ve always done it.” They look for new and creative ways to implement curriculum. They are experts at leveraging the resources and network they already have to enhance their ministry to the families in their church.
3. They understand their role as discipling the entire family.
Another common characteristic that church leaders have a difficult time finding in children’s pastors is someone with the skill set to develop an entire family discipleship program.
Mediocre children’s pastors think, “I wish parents would be more involved.” Highly effective children’s pastors think, “How can I develop resources for parents to engage with their children about the gospel this week?”
What does it look like practically to disciple the entire family? Highly effective children’s pastors find ways to involve the parents in what the children are learning. They also understand the nuances of different families in the church. They create resources and support for split families and single parent families, realizing that their needs are different from each other. They also look for ways to incorporate children with special needs into their ministry.
4. They prioritize scalability.
The fastest growing churches realize that children’s ministry is the growth engine for the church and invest significant resources there. Effective children’s pastors have a goal of ministry growth in that they want to provide an experience where families can grow closer to Jesus. They also think about scalability.
When implementing a system or process, mediocre children’s pastors think, “I need this solution now.” Highly effective children’s pastors think, “Will this work when our ministry doubles or triples?”
What does it look like practically to disciple to prioritize scalability? Effective children’s pastors seek out a senior leader on staff who consistently asks them, “How does this scale?”
5. They utilize safety best practices.
If a children’s pastor is not consistently ensuring that the children’s ministry is abiding by safety best practices, this should be a red flag to senior leaders. Children’s ministry has many risks from food allergies to security.
Our team wrote a white paper recently for children’s pastors called 10 Essential Children’s Ministry Safety Best Practices to help children’s pastors ensure they are making safety a priority in their ministry.
These are only a few of many characteristics of highly effective children’s pastors, but I hope they encourage you as you are on the frontline of ministry reaching families for Christ.
William Vanderbloemen is the President/CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group, an executive search firm that helps churches and ministries build great teams. Learn more about Vanderbloemen Search Group at www.vanderbloemen.com, and connect with them on twitter @VanderbloemenSG.