A few weeks ago I read a fascinating article from the Vanderbloemen Search Blog about the challenge of finding high capacity Children’s Pastors. The article appears to be written more for the senior leadership audience, but it’s critical that those of us in the trenches know and understand this. Honestly, there is something that you can do about it.
I agreed with this article in dozens of ways. In the past 7 or so years, I’ve had to hire four or five children’s pastors and four or five elementary and early childhood directors (full time positions). I’d enjoy having my fingernails ripped off more than searching for any of these positions. Why? Because there aren’t many of them out there. I feel like my chances of finding a leprechaun or unicorn are higher. Not Children’s Pastors or Elementary/Early Childhood Directors, but ones that are high capacity, able to lead ministries with hundreds of kids and hundreds of volunteers with a track record to convince me. In most cases, it has taken me a year or more to find these positions, they just so hard to find.
This article explains why there may be so few good quality Children’s Pastors. In just about every case, it is because of the actions, mindset and decisions made by senior leadership. Go ahead, read the article. You agree with the points, don’t you?
Now, here’s what I’m suggesting. Friends. Cohorts. Brothers and Sisters. It’s up to us to see change in this area.
Become the high-capacity Children’s Pastor your church needs you to be. The majority of Children’s Ministry leaders have had little to no training. This is one of the reasons why there are so few high-capacity Children’s Pastors. Just because your good with kids (even if there is some gifting there) doesn’t mean you’ll become High Capacity. Get a mentor. Ask Questions. Save up your money and go to a conference. Meet as many people who do what you do at a level far beyond where you’re at and buy them lunch or coffee. You’d be surprised by how many will take you up on your offer. Read books. Read Magazines. Learn what you need to know and unlearn what is holding you back. Truly effective Children’s Ministry is somewhat counter intuitive, but you won’t know that until you learn from those further down the road.
Now that you’re on a path of becoming indispensable, its time for you to lead up. Grow a backbone and start having conversations with senior leadership. I’m not suggesting you be disrespectful or manipulative. However, have the conversations that no one has ever had with your senior pastor. Speak to the elders about the things they simply don’t understand or know. Do your homework. Present the facts and ask for the opportunity to have ongoing conversations about your position and the position of children’s ministry in your church. Don’t settle for “no,” but ask “when.”
Too quickly we get to a place of resentment and frustration and this isn’t exactly fair because your senior leadership just doesn’t know what you know. Plus, your senior leadership has stresses and responsibilities that you don’t understand. Be patient and show grace, but be persistent. I truly believe that no one has a better opportunity to influence your senior leadership than you… you just have to be willing to speak up and lead up.
In the end, we build a stronger Children’s Ministry. We develop as high-capacity leaders and we develop high-capacity leaders. What do you say? Are you up for the challenge? What have you got to lose?
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