How does that statement go? “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. When it comes to landing a job in Chidlren’s Ministry, nothing is more powerful than the network. Over and over and over again you’re going to hear me talk about how you need to network, learn from others, blog, tweet, comment on blogs and connect with others doing what you do. I think it will add so much to your life. However, when it comes time to find a new place to serve (or first place to serve), being well connected will help you in so many ways.
On a regular basis (probably monthly), I have pastors looking for a Children’s Pastor call me or email me asking me if I know anyone. Many of these churches aren’t advertising on the big church job websites. They’re looking to fill the position from within or through someone they know. Often times, these are the churches where cool and exciting things are happening. You’ll never get this opportunity unless you’re plugged into the network. Does that make sense?
To some degree, my network helped me get where I am right now. I was very new into networking when I wandered into unemployment land over two years ago. I had a few connections, not nearly as many as I have now. I connected with Shepherds Staff, a ministry search firm that first connected me with Gateway. However, as Shepherd Staff was getting to know me, I knew people that they knew which gave me come credibility. My small network that interconnected with their network provided some built in references. Just a few weeks before my first phone interview with Gateway, I had dinner with Jim Wideman. I told him about my opportunity with with Gateway and he knew Gateway. He had consulted with them and knew the man who would become my boss. Jim spoke very highly of Gateway and I’m not sure what all he did, but I think he gave a good word for me as well. Again, that’s the power of the network.
So, you may not be searching for a job right now, but one day you will. Start building your network. Even if you’re currently a college student or barely into ministry, get out there and connect. Everyone has something to offer. Share! Everyone has questions. Ask! I’m even amazed by the number of volunteers out there who are massively networked. I’ve mistaken several as children’s pastors only to discover they’re volunteers in their churches.
I’m also going to encourage you to break out of your molds and diversify your network. Kidology is a great place to connect, but you’re hurting yourself if that’s the only place to connect. CMConnect is a great place to network, but everyone’s not there (or active there). There are dozens of blogs and communities following the blogs. Some of these mini-networks connect, many don’t. Expand your web of connection as far as you can, even if you only dedicate an hour or so a week to it.
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Kenny, I live in Thornton, CO. I graduated back in 2006 from Oklahoma Wesleyan University in English Bible with a minor in music. As I had begun looking for children’s ministry jobs and had a couple of interviews they were looking for experience I didn’t have. Therefore, I began serving at a church of about 1,000 people. During that time I went back to school and received my Elementary Ed. License. I had been serving at that church from March 2007 through December 2010. I then went on to serve at a new church plant in Aurora, CO that I am currently with. However, I have not been getting the experience I feel is needed. I know one of the main areas in children’s ministry I am weak in is in the area of leadership. I am wanting to find a church where I can get connected, not just volunteer but be mentored, challenged, and strengthened in my Kidmin leadership. After reading your articles I had never before thought of the importance of networking until now. Besides the places you give and others I can think of such as Group Publishing, Willow Creek Association, 252 Basics, Orange, do you have any others to suggest for me to begin networking with?