by Rebekah Bullard
It’s finally happened! You landed the job you have always dreamt of. Or maybe . . . the newfound calling for ministry has taken you by surprise. Either way, you are set and ready to build an excellent family ministry—which will make a meaningful impact in the lives of kids. Surely, everyone else is just as excited as you, right?
Eight years ago, I left the classroom to join the church staff as a ministry leader. It came to my naïve surprise that there would be unforeseen tensions to manage within my role about helping others to see the importance of investing more in family ministry.
If I had to guess, you can probably relate.
While the church has one common mission to reach people for the kingdom, those of us who have a family ministry title are oftentimes solely responsible for championing the vision in a setting traditionally focused towards adults.
You have two choices, make it better so that your church can have a more effective reach for the next generation . . . or don’t, and it will all stay the same.
Since you are reading this, I have full confidence in you that you are a LEADER. And what do leaders do? They change things!
So, where do you begin now that you have been given the responsibility to lead the way in changing a church to invest more in family ministry?
- Define the Vision – Set realistic, measurable and time-sensitive goals. If you fail to clarify the measure of success, others may fail to see the “wins” of your ministry. Share the wins in ways that are meaningful to your leadership and those outside of the family ministry. This will help you to cast vision for how a healthy family ministry strategy can impact the church as a whole.
- Build a Team of Leaders – “Turning the Titanic” to lead a church to invest more in family ministry is an overwhelming task! How will YOU ever pull this off? That is just it. YOU won’t. Identifying and developing key leaders will be the most essential part of your vision being accomplished, seen and expanded for years to come. Pray for, find, and develop key leaders who will not only be influencers in the lives of the kids and students, but will also be a team who will fully own the importance of the vision at hand. Remember, true leadership is all about influence rather than authority.
- Invest in Parents – “The cow follows the calf” is something I heard often from one of my Next Gen leaders here in the south. To prove it’s truth, just do a Google search for the top box office grossing movies over the last three years. You will plainly see where the money and time has been spent. Movies like “Frozen,” “Despicable Me 2,” “Malificent” and “Inside Out” are all topping the lists. Parents innately want to spend their time and resources engaging their kids with meaningful experiences. This is no different in the church. If a child or student begs to go back to a particular church, chances are, parents will go. What if we were able to work together with parents to make the church one of the most engaging places in the life of a child?
- Engage the Right Conversations – While it might be easier to ignore the gaps between the overall church and the family ministry, these conversations are vital to growth. Avoid seeing these conversations as “conflict” but instead reframe them as bringing “clarity” to the desired goals. Remember to keep your mind focused on the goal and not the defense. Go to the table as the voice for kids and families, but also the advocate for the overall vision of the church.
- Stay Positive and Be Patient – I believe there is a way to have a positive, realistic viewpoint while navigating this new found territory. Remember, it takes time to gain the professional and spiritual equity to leave a lasting mark. I imagine it like building a brand new bridge over a lake that once kept two communities separate, or a major mix master highway through a once rural town to bring a flourishing economy. Those projects can take years, but their results are life altering for many.
Step into the confidence of all that you have already been chosen to do in the lives of the families you impact within the church and community. Anyone who ever made his or her mark in this world didn’t do so while sitting comfortably. They walked an unpaved path and created a brand new trail bringing others along with them. Children need an adult to be their champion. Family Ministry Leader, it can all start with you.
Rebekah is the Kids Pastor of Cross Point Church Nashville, and she is passionate about empowering leaders and partnering with families to lead kids into a foundational relationship with Jesus. She is certain that there is nothing more important than seeing kids get excited about their faith in way that sticks with them in every season and milestone ahead. Rebekah believes the greatest asset we have to accomplish the mission of giving kids a lasting impression of Jesus, is volunteers who ensure kids feel known and parents who are committed to creating ministry in their homes right amongst their everyday. She has been married to Chris, her college sweetheart, for 10 years. They have one beautiful daughter, Gracie Ann. You can connect with Rebekah on Twitter or via her blog.