One of the things I love most about Gateway is that central to the mission of our church is the fulfillment of the Great Commission in EVERY aspect of ministry. For year, my focus as a Children’s Pastor was to help kids know and follow Christ. It wasn’t until coming to Gateway that I really began considering the spiritual health and growth of those serving kids. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been concerned about my volunteers spiritual condition, it just wasn’t my job. It was their responsibility to be in a small group or accountable relationship to be growing. I just needed them to help me reach kids. Sure, we could debate the pros and cons of this setup, but Gateway challenged my thinking about caring for and leading volunteers spiritually.
The problem is that many of the volunteers and leaders serving in our children’s ministries aren’t in small groups. Many times it’s for good reason. So what about their spiritual care? Who’s responsible? If I’m leading my area at the pastoral level and Ephesians 4 tells me it’s my job to equip the saints, then perhaps the spiritual condition of my volunteers is my responsibility. Think beyond that for a minute. What if my elementary small group leaders at the 9:30 service were growing together spiritually in the same way a small group would? Wouldn’t that make my team more united, consistant and effective in working together? You bet.
So the diagram above was developed by Gateway several years ago to show how people at Gateway can be cared for spiritually. The stars represent people who are not connected spiritually at Gateway. The idea is to get those who are not connected to link up either with a small group or join a serving team. We all know there are many who gravitate toward serving before they would a small group. However, either path is good. As you can see by the diagram, many people on serving teams are also in small groups. Nothing wrong with that. However, directors and coordinators also try to create groups within the serving team. Maybe 5 of the 9 small group leaders at a service will decide to do a study together. So within that serving team, 5 people who serve in the children’s ministry begin receiving spiritual care and support by a serving group. They serve together and grow together.
It’s a great model and were seeing some great things happening spiritually in the lives of our volunteers. All this helps us make a greater impact on the lives of kids. It’s modeling what we expect to see happen in the lives of kids as well. What do you think?
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Good stuff, Kenny. I especially like the diagram (pictures are always better than words with a simple minded guy like me).
The idea of shepherding and pastoring the volunteer flock is something that the Lord has placed on my heart as well.
Can you explain the difference between a serving team and a serving group?
Also, can you flesh out what a serving team or group does (if anything) beyond their volunteer service in the ministry?
Glad the diagram helped.
A serving team is something all of us have and most Children’s Ministries don’t go any further than this. So your serving team might be small group leaders at one service on Sunday. It could be all your nursery workers during one service. We tend to have a coordinator or service leaders who oversees a serving team. Serving teams are usually made up of no more than 10-12 people. Serving team leaders/coordinators report to the early childhood director or elementary director and manage the task of coordinating the service in that area. Anyone who has a hierarchy of leadership in their ministry will have a structure similar to this. It is important though that this team is one that works together consistently so that relationships are formed.
Where this goes a step further is that within this team, we form a serving group or groups. This would be where the coordinator/leaders begins investing in the lives of those on his/her team. It may be by gathering together as a group after a service or doing a study another day of the week. Probably not everyone on the team will be in this group. Some are in small groups outside of ministry. That’s great. Others just aren’t ready. That’s fine too, as long as the leaders are continuing to connect with them and point them toward connecting in the serving group or in a small group (not being in any group where they’re going spiritually is not optional).
Hope that clears it up. This isn’t working at full capacity at Gateway, but it’s beginning to show up in pockets in various areas of the kids ministry and it’s awesome.
“Simply Strategic Volunteers” http://tinyurl.com/yjob5qg changed the way I viewed/cared for my volunteer team. I’ve seen amazing growth both in my volunteers and the ministry. Great book with similar ideas to what you are sharing here. Good stuff!!
Love it! You will create so much more synergy in your serving teams when they begin to grow spiritual and relationally in their serving groups.
That began to happen naturally in one of our ministry environments with amazing results in the vision and commitment of the leaders. I love the idea of being intentional and not counting on nature to take its course!
Truth is, this won’t happen naturally, at least not on a large scale. We have to be intentional… otherwise we’ll see it happen organically happen in a few little spots while large segments of our volunteers suffer spiritually in silence.