by Carla Bregani
Aaaahhhh, the New Year. A time to review, refresh, slow down, and move forward with a renewed sense of purpose and vision, right? Which must be why I cleverly agreed to my husband’s plan of getting the most out of our Christmas vacation by arriving home from the holidays on a 10 p.m. Saturday night flight and jumping into the first Sunday morning of 2016 a mere nine hours later. Because that’s obviously a scenario that promotes a refreshed children’s minister, right?!
Clearly, I have much to learn.
But refreshing our ministry vision isn’t meant to be a once-a-year initiative; it’s an action that’s best built into the rhythms of our lives. Consider it the proverbial “ounce of prevention” that trounces the alternative “pound of cure,” both for us and for our teams.
Here’s how the team I lead seizes opportunities to refresh our ministry vision:
- Regular Sabbaths: I am so grateful for my monthly half-day spent in “no interruptions” time with God. It’s amazing how quickly a week or month can go by without dedicated chunks of time to pray, think, dream, meditate, grow, take some breaths, and connect with God.
For my team:
- Listening for wins—and sharing them: I love it when a parent tells me how their child applied last week’s Life App or worked on their daily devotions—and I eagerly share those exciting developments with our volunteers! Celebrating “wins” with everyone from small group leaders to bus drivers and greeters, reminds them that they’re an important part of the team that is discipling our kids—and encourages them to press on!
- Connecting with other ministry leaders: Last summer when I was in Vancouver, I asked the children’s ministry folks at my parents’ church, CTK Bellingham (Hi Chad!), if we could connect for a few minutes before/after a service. It wasn’t anything formal—just a quick tour and chat—but it helped give shape to my vision for our church’s launch of Orange curriculum this fall. And a few weeks ago, my husband and I had a layover in Fort Lauderdale and attended Downtown Harbor Church (Hi Kristina and Adam!), and did the same thing. Visiting other churches gives me a ton of encouragement as I connect with other children’s ministry leaders (I think we all know it can be a lonely role), and seeing how others use their facilities and Orange curriculum keeps me from growing stagnant.
For my team:
- Sharing wins with the entire church family: To keep the church family informed about children’s ministry initiatives and opportunities, I try to do short updates every so often during the main service. This forces me to boil down our ministry to the biggest “wins” and “needs” from children’s ministry—and to cast vision and “brag” on my CM team in front of the whole church!
- Having a mentor and being a mentor: Between my pastor and another church leader, I have great opportunities to work through issues, honestly address my own spiritual and emotional health, and refocus whenever my vision gets a little fuzzy. Mentoring others also helps me reframe my own journey and decisions, and investing in the lives of others realigns me when my view becomes too narrow.
For my team:
- Casting Kingdom vision: I admit it. I have a reputation for lengthy emails. They’re not really skim-able (i.e., sometimes my husband asks me to just tell him the main points!). But I stand by them unapologetically (mostly), because I refuse to send a team email that says: “Here’s this week’s outline. Good luck.” Instead, I include an anecdote about an area where we’re seeing growth, a note of encouragement, or a reminder that we’re doing Kingdom work and that God is working in our lives and the lives of the kids we serve. I can’t afford to gift a “thank you” cruise or a new car to each volunteer who touches a child’s life, but I can use my gift (words!) to constantly cast vision and remind our team of what’s at stake as we serve. And at the very least, my team will develop their email-skimming skills!
- Staying current and “filled up:” Ministry and leadership blogs, conferences, and books help me focus, grow, and think. Now that we’re a few months into Orange curriculum, we’ve starting to work with an Orange Coach, who will help me lead well, zero in on areas I need to address, and create a great foundation for growth.
For my team:
- Affirming the team: We do our best to make serving on the team fun, fulfilling, and convenient! I bring food, schedule meetings for convenient times, ask for feedback, and continually seek out ways to equip each volunteer. Recently, I asked our children’s ministry prayer team to pop in and pray for our SGLs during a children’s church quarterly meeting. I had no idea the impact that gesture would have, but the SGLs were incredibly encouraged and blessed to be reminded that others in the church family are specifically praying for them and the kids they serve.
- Connecting with one another: Sending a note of encouragement, picking up on indications of fatigue, establishing significant relationships, and showing true love and care for each volunteer help build ministry teams that are in it for the long haul. I cannot personally disciple each child who comes to our church, but along with the Holy Spirit, I can facilitate an environment where volunteers are rejuvenated and overflowing with God’s love.
I’m sure there are lots of other “vision-refreshing” opportunities out there, and I’m continually seeking out the best ways to help keep our eyes focused on Christ as we serve. And maybe one day, my husband won’t request that I “just tell him the basic info” from the team email I sent! Anything’s possible!
Carla Bregani is the minister to children at Cayman Islands Baptist Church in Grand Cayman. You can connect with Carla on Twitter.