To be a Children’s Ministry Leader is to be a generalist. There are very few things that those of us in kidmin won’t do or haven’t already done. Leading in kidmin isn’t much different from leading a church. Where most church departments focus on one aspect of ministry, the “children’s department” typically encompasses what every individual department does for adults, but just for kids. A good kidmin leader is flexible and willing to take on almost anything.
- Need a postcard designed? Check!
- Need to put together a set for the preschool environment? Check!
- Need to gather leaders and cast vision for a new service? Check!
- Need to made budget changes in order to afford a new outreach opportunity? Check!
- Need to recruit twice your number of regular volunteers for VBS? Check!
If we weren’t generalists, we would have failed a long time ago. It’s a necessity.
However, as our ministry grows, we may have the opportunity to bring on staff to help. Typically, we divide staff responsibilities by age preference. Nursery and Preschool Directors are often the first hires, splitting responsibilities by age groups. I’d like to make an interesting observation though. Dividing by age group makes a lot of sense. Dividing this way essentially takes the ministry responsibilities and gives each staff person identical jobs – the only difference are the kids we serve. Although it makes sense, I’d argue that it’s not very efficient. I’ll come back to this thought.
If our ministry continues to grow, we begin to look toward specialist roles. Perhaps we’ll hire administrative help for the ministry. Maybe we’ll hire a volunteer coordinator or even a large group/program director for elementary or even preschool. In most cases, staff specialists are the last to be hired under a departmental model. Unfortunately, most churches will never get big enough to reap the benefit of a specialist. Even the churches who get this far might have specialists working in an inefficient model.
Here’s the problem with the departmental model. For the most part, the nursery/preschool director and the elementary director does the exact same thing. The problem is that most people are only really good at one or two things. We’re wired in very specific ways. We each have our bucket.
The preschool director might be fantastic at recruiting volunteers and the elementary director might be amazing at large group/production. Although the ministry now has two staff people, the preschool no longer benefits from the gifts/abilities of the elementary director. In the same way, the elementary department might struggle on the volunteer front compared to preschool. Even worse, your staff will struggle. They’ll invest as much as they can in the areas they love, but they’ll be frustrated by the things they don’t enjoy.
So here is a suggestion. We’re often generalists because of necessity. But what if we didn’t have to be a generalist? What if we decided not to follow the department model of staffing? What if we decided to hire specialists right off the bat instead of later? What if we decided not to hire a preschool director, but rather invested in a volunteer director instead? This volunteer director was responsible for recruiting, developing and leading volunteers at every age group? Obviously you’d want to find someone who LOVES people and thrives in highly relational environments. If you had someone who embraced the volunteer world, then you could focus on what you love most. Maybe it’s creating engaging teaching environments or creating systems and processes for your ministry.
Here’s what happens when you hire more specialists:
- Staff spend more time doing what they’re good at
- Staff enjoy their work more because they get to use their gifts every day
- Volunteers are better cared for because they’re going to be someone’s priority as opposed to everyone’s secondary
It’s worth the consideration. Evaluate your ministries strength’s and weaknesses. What age groups seem to be getting less of something than another age group? Could this be solved by a creative staff transition? Could this be solved by a strategic staff replacement?
Consider the parable of the talents. We all have been given something to steward. Is it possible to reap a greater return if we approached the problem from a different perspective? What’s holding us back? Is it fear? Is it the challenge of making someone else’s life difficult? Are things currently comfortable? Just know that something better could be just around the corner if we have the courage to explore something different.
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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