Towards the middle of my interview process Kenny asked,
“How do you feel about working closely with the children’s ministry?”
If I remember correctly, I paused to consider the question and where he was going with it. I was leaving a church where student ministry was separate from children’s ministry. There was no animosity, we just didn’t meet together, dream together, or work together toward a common goal. It was a similar story at Kenny’s church, but he wanted to build an integrated staff team. I told him I was down for giving it my best shot.
Four years later and now sitting on the other side of the conversation I have to say, being on an integrated team is worth it. It’s worth the long debates, it’s worth struggling through and refining vision and programs, it’s worth learning from someone else on the team that knows more about an age group than you do.
Here’s where I gave in 100% to an integrated staffing model. I was available one Sunday morning to help in our pre-school area. As I got on my knees and talked transformers with a handful of 4-year-old boys, only one thought came to mind,
“These are my future high school students!”
With that in mind, I care greatly about what they are learning and who is imparting biblical wisdom to them at that age and beyond. If I start caring about my leaders and students before they even get to me, how much more connected and further along in their faith journey would they be once they arrive in middle school or high school?
Just because I was the student pastor for 4 years didn’t mean that I just lived in the student bubble. When I worked alongside our elementary director and early childhood director on a weekly basis I learned a lot! There are many similarities among different age groups but also variances. Literally sitting and working at the same desk (one of the best ways to integrate a team) allowed us to get a microscopic view of each other’s programs, leaders, parents, etc. I had the opportunity to both give and receive feedback from those that were in similar situations. Quickly I discovered where I was weak and where other people on the team were strong.
For example, I suck at excel spreadsheets. I actually hate them. I understand the purpose, and actually would not argue that we need them more than ever before to stay organized. I just don’t get them. At all. Sure, it’s something I’m working on but people on my team know that if I’m staring at the excel spreadsheet for more than 10 seconds I need help. Someone on my team will spend 5 minutes crafting something that would have taken me 30 minutes to figure out. However, if someone needs something designed in Photoshop or something mechanically fixed – I’m your guy. By default, we have all assumed “odd-job specialist” in one area or another. When you are trying to run a church within a church, (usually understaffed or without a huge budget) you have to think this way. In most cases, the things that people are good at, they are passionate about. It doesn’t bother me to spend 20 minutes of my day troubleshooting a light board for our elementary program, it gives me a break from my spreadsheets! 🙂
To integrate a staff, consider new roles that have never been on paper before and get everyone on the same page takes time. There are heartbreaks, misunderstandings, and hard conversations along the way. With all that said, it’s worth it. Every minute of it. If we align our kids/students staff and support each other in our weaknesses then we can present the most supportive family model to mom, dad, and the child. #iamnextgen
This post is part of a larger series on moving your ministry forward using the often neglected tool - the checklist. In this series, we unpack how a system of checklists can actually help us take our ministry to new levels. Plus, we want to share dozens of actual ministry checklists you and your team can implement right away. Click on the link below to explore this topic and pick up some helpful resources!
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