A few years ago, I started thinking outside the box when it comes to staff. No, it’s not because I’m a creative genius. I read a book that prompted a different way of thinking. At the same time, I connected with two different churches that were experimenting with their staffing models. After several months of research and discover, this is what I found.

Nearly everything you do in ministry fits in one of three buckets:

  • Bucket One: Administration
  • Bucket Two: Production
  • Bucket Three: Volunteer Relations

Background checks, volunteer applications, reimbursements, supplies, curriculum, purchasing and scheduling. Regardless of the size of your church, ministry comes with a mountain of administrative tasks. If someone isn’t keeping an eye on all these details, important things will begin to fall apart.

Pulling off a weekend service (or more) takes a lot of work/planning. From modifying the curriculum, scripts, rehearsals, managing props and putting together all the media, someone has a lot to do. The best experiences are led by the creative people, those who can design an experience that connects with kids in thoughtful ways.

Volunteer Relations:
There are never enough, are there? They often call, text and email letting you know that they won’t be there just late enough that you won’t have time to replace them – and those are the volunteers who let you know. It’s quite the responsibility to assess people’s gifts, personalities and dispositions and place them where they’ll meet a desired need and feel like they’re making a contribution. Oh, and there’s the finding people to fill the open spots while endlessly recruiting quality new volunteers.

Outside of the “pastoral” responsibilities that come with ministry, almost everything that needs to be accomplished in the typical children’s ministry falls into one of these categories.

Now for the million dollar question. What’s your bucket?

You have one, right? Everyone has one. Take a minute and think about your staff. What’s their bucket? Sure, you’re Elementary Director has multiple responsibilities, but which bucket is her sweet spot? How about your Preschool Director? What about you?

Here’s the problem with the traditional children’s ministry (and student ministry for that matter) staffing model. Everyone has a specialty (preferred bucket), yet nearly everyone has to carry every bucket.

Here’s an interesting thought. What if you and your staff could spend less time doing everything and more time focused on what they do best? We’ll talk about that in the next post.


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!