Leading a kids ministry isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be either. After all, we get the opportunity to be called leaders and impact volunteers, kids, and parents. While that sounds amazing, there are a few pitfalls we need to avoid if we want to be the best leaders we can be and have the maximum impact.
Kids Ministry Leader Pitfalls to Avoid
1. No Recruitment
No Recruitment -> You Fill Gaps -> People Burnout
You’ve read it before.
“The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.”
As leaders, it’s our responsibility to recruit people to our ministries. Top companies look for the top talent, why don’t we? Instead, we often wait for the volunteer sign up to come and just place people in a role. While we don’t have to recruit an army every week, we should be intentional about having conversations each week.
My personal weekly goal is five. We have four services each week, so I challenge myself to recruit someone at each service plus one. Why would I do that? Because I’m passing by people each and every weekend who are asking to be involved. If I don’t do it, I have to fill the gaps. And if I’m filling the gaps, then I’m becoming tired, irritated, and off mission. (I heard a few amens.) This will also affect my volunteers because they will end up burning out because the ministry isn’t growing. When the ministry doesn’t grow, everyone feels it. But when we set the pace and recruit new people, our teams will see that and have a blueprint for a healthy ministry. This is why we can’t miss a week of recruiting someone new to our ministries.
2. No Empowerment
No Empowerment -> You Do Everything -> People Don’t Reach Their Potential
There’s a classic rock song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers that I occasionally listen to. Some of the lyrics are “Give It Away, give it away, give it away now.” If we’re not giving ministry away, we’re doing it all. Not only does that lead to burnout, it leads to frustration for us and our volunteers.
Chances are, we have some amazing volunteers who are just waiting for the opportunity to take their next step. What’s the problem? We may be holding on to the reins tighter than an infant holding their blankie after a nap. Think about it. We weren’t always doing the role we’re in now. Someone saw something in you and I and said, “I want you to step up.” We don’t need to be the bottleneck for our ministries by keeping everything to ourselves. That doesn’t mean we should dump everything on people. However, it does mean we should see their gifts, speak life into them, give them trial runs, and once they have it, get out of the way and let them lead.
Try this: Make a to-don’t list this week. Once you have the list, pray and ask God for leaders who can step in and use their gifts to that task. It might take some trial and error, but don’t quit too soon. Celebrate when you’ve empowered someone, and keep it going. You’ll never know if it works if you don’t give it a try. So give it away. Give it away now!
3. No Leadership
No Leadership -> You Unintentionally Create Chaos -> People Do Their Own Thing
We’ve all said things like this:
That’s not the way it’s done.
They just don’t get it.
I have to do it.
These are indications not that we have a people problem, we have a leadership problem. A lack of leadership can create chaos in ministries. It’s not intentional; it just happens. Volunteers make their own values, standards, and culture. Leadership is more than just a title. John Maxwell says that leadership is influence. We get to influence (aka lead) the people God has provided. Every email, call, reminder, policy, and training all provide leadership to those we serve. It’s not being controlling, but creating an environment where people can grow, serve, and love God. We have a simple saying at our church, “Lead Something.” That might mean leading yourself, one person, one classroom, etc.
Try this: What is one area of your leadership you could work to get 1% better at?
4. No Vision
No Vision -> You Feel Stuck -> People Have Nothing To Follow
I’m not gonna lie. When I read, “Where there is no vision, the people will perish,” my feelings were hurt. I don’t want people to perish. You don’t want people to perish. But, without a vision, our teams are just spinning their wheels. The reason why I dislike traffic is because we’re supposed to be going somewhere, but we’re not. Imagine that feeling for a volunteer who is excited about serving but our lack of vision has them lost.
If we lack vision, we need to immediately meet with the leader above us to get guidance. Hear where they’re trying to go. It’s important that the vision for the children’s ministry aligns with the church’s vision. Also, it’s important for the vision to be articulated in simple points that any volunteer would hear and want to join. When I speak to our team, I remind them of what’s at stake if we don’t run our ministry well. I let them know that every child deserves the best environment, leaders, and friends each week. Finally, I remind them that we can’t do this without vision. Vision leaks so if our ministries aren’t thriving it may be time to get some clarity on the vision.
5. No Growth
No Growth -> You Become Irrelevant-> People Don’t Grow
I love the saying, “What got you here, won’t keep you here.” As ministry leaders, we have to be growing, and I’m not talking about growing tired. We need to grow spiritually, mentally, personally, and physically. I’m not saying go get a Masters in leadership tomorrow, but our teams do need us to grow. They need inspiration and resources that they can use and share.
I meet with our staff and key volunteers every week. Yep, every week. Each week, my goal is to share something I’ve read, heard, watched, or processed. The more growth opportunities I have, the more growth opportunities our teams have. Healthy things grow. Set time aside to grow daily. Because when you grow, your team grows. When the team grows, families grow. And when families grow, communities grow.