I have just accpted a position as the director of children's ministry at a church in Mississauga, I will be moving in the next few weeks  to the city and starting the position mid August. 

This is my first paid ministry position and i'm Just wondering if anyone has some advice about taking on a new role-  I know there was some concern because of my age (I'm 21) but I honestly don't feel like that will be an issue. Anyone have a similar experience?  Any advice? 

I would also love to hear tips on how to transition well, how to build relationships with current vounteers, what kind of changes are acceptable to be made in the beginning... any suggestions in any area will be very helpful! 

Thanks :)

Sarah

Tags: first, leader, ministry, new, position, role, young

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Sarah... first off... I'm super excited for you and praying God will bless your ministry.

I would encourage you to plan to make mistakes as you learn in this new season. You know, don't be reckless, but allow yourself to fail some. You will learn from experimenting and pushing yourself.

Take time to get to know the key leaders already serving in your ministry. Invite them to lunch or coffee and listen. Let them dream about how the ministry could be better. Then, begin to work toward making changes.

At the start, especially for a young leader, you'll probably want to make small calculated changes. Once you get to know the ministry better, and the people you are serving with, then you can look at bigger changes. 

I'm going to share this conversation with the community and see if we can get you some more support. My email is michael@cmconnect.org. My cell is 812.736.7780. Please reach out anytime you need help. If I can't help you then I will do my best to connect you to someone who can.

Many blessings on you and your ministry! I pray it is a wonderful experience!

Michael

Sarah, congratulations and blessings.  You'll find much support here at CMConnect.  There's an informal chat on Tuesdays at 2EST.  You should try to join us.  Have fun and don't let anyone look down on you because you are young.  :)

Bonnie

How exciting!  I would offer a couple of suggestions (and there are lots of things you will probably hear from people).

1st -Spend as much time as you can getting to know the heart of your pastor and the culture of your church.  Your calling is to support that pastor in the church you have been placed.  Find out what your senior pastor wants your kids to grow up to be (what does he consider the most important things for the constituents who attend).  Then start looking at how you can create an environment that raises kids that way

2nd -Be slow to change (as Michael said).  People need to trust you and that only comes with change.  When you do roll out something different use the word "try" instead of change.  "Let's try this and see how it works."  People are more open to try something because it appears less committal.

3rd -Don't quit!  Everything will be great for the first couple of weeks.  Then you will start to experience all of the challenges of new town, church, boss, etc.  Stay the course!  God will honor that.  

Know that God has placed you there for such a time as this!  

Tony

Hey Sarah! Congrats on the new position!

My advice would be to first get acquainted with your church staff and your current volunteers. You'll want to talk to the staff and find out who the strong leaders are who are already serving in your children's ministry. These people will likely become good sounding boards for any changes you have in your mind that you want to implement. Many times, if you can get these leaders on board, the rest will happily come along. The senior pastor and/or other staff members will be good for this too, in the beginning.

I would recommend having someone on staff, or one of the main leaders in your ministry, host a party or meet and greet for you and your leaders as soon as you arrive. This will allow you to connect and build relationships with your volunteers and hear their hearts for the children's ministry.

With changes in mind, I would recommend waiting a good 6 months at least before making any significant changes. This isn't just to keep from "ruffling feathers," but it will also take you some time to get a good feel for how the ministry is running and what actually needs to be changed first, if anything. I've written an article on my blog with a few points for children's ministry leaders who begin at a new church. If you want to take a read, here's the link.

Remember, chances are your volunteers are just as excited about you being there as you are so enjoy it! You will be great! Again congrats!

Hey! We are twins! I am only 21 and taking on the position of our Children's Ministry Director in November. I start part-time but when I finish school it will go to full-time. I completely understand your journey and it is awesome! Feel free to check out of my blog www.leadingchildren.wordpress.com where I have been blogging my journey. I guess my best advice is to never stop learning, ever. When you mess up, learn from it. When you do something AWESOME, learn from it too. Just keep learning at all costs from all experiences, and gather all the resources you can. And I believe most importantly is to love the people around you that you are working with because they will either make it or break it for you. Just love on your volunteers because you need them, and they need you! 

You got this! Jesus is on your side and not fighting against you! 

Clarissa 

Hi Sarah!

In any new role, regardless of age, you have to prove yourself. . . prove you are ready to roll up your sleeves and work hard. . . .prove that you play well with others. . . prove that you are ready to continue the things that your kids and parents love and also able to introduce them to new ideas. . . prove you ready to make a difference.  At 21, I bet you have energy and exuberance on your side so I bet you'll do just fine.

Kathy Meadows

www.missionpossiblekids.org 

Hi Sarah,

How wonderful for you! Children's Ministry is a most rewarding and at times challenging place to serve our LORD. I agree with all that Mr. Chanley has already said. I was not as young as you are when God called me to full time service in CM, but it was (and is) my first paid ministry position. 

Take it slow. I wouldn't make any changes the first three months, unless there's something doctrinal that needs addressing. Give yourself time to acclimate to your new surroundings and those you will be serving, and them to you. Listen to your key leaders; those who have been in the trenches. Some will want things to stay as is and some will be eager to see changes...don't make any promises! Prayerfully consider every suggestion. Seek the council of your Pastor, he knows the congregation pretty well and has a vision for the church as a whole.

And finally, every ministry needs rules and guidelines but have as few "policies" as possible. Policies are only as good as can be enforced. 

Let Jesus' love flow through you to those precious little ones and their families, and you will be alright!

"Heavenly Father, I thank you for Sarah and her love for You and to serve children and their families. I pray that you will fill her with Your Spirit, guide her and direct her every step. I ask that You give her godly wisdom beyond her years of experience. Father, I pray now for those that she will be serving that they will receive her with open arms and be willing to come along beside her in ministry. Thank You for loving us. Thank You for our Salvation through Your Son, Jesus Christ, and it is in His Name I pray. Amen"

Sarah, God bless and keep you, and I wish you well in Mississauga!

Tricia

Sarah,

Congratulations.  I went through the same thing 3.5 years ago.  This was my first ministry position on staff as well.  The difference between us is my age.  I was 39 when God opened up the door.  There have been many great suggestions for you to contemplate.  I would offer a couple of other suggestions as well.

First you need to pray.  Ask God to guide your thoughts and to place the desires in your heart for this context of ministry.  When I came to my church I had specific ideas that I wanted to implement.  Over time I realized through prayer that some of my initial desires did not fit the context of the ministry and were my ideas and not God's.  

As you get to know your volunteer structure you need to keep in mind that not all the volunteers may be on board with what you know God wants to accomplish.  That's ok.  Volunteers have seasons just like we do.  I would suggest partnering with your pastor when you realize this so that he is aware of a potential fall out.  The dreaded "We have never done that before" or "We have always done it this way" may surface.  Keep in mind that many people are emotionally tied to their past or programs that they have seen God work through. This is a hard one because it takes them time to disassociate you and what God wants to do from the person that "killed" their favorite program.  By partnering with your pastor, he can help you weather the storms and communicate publicly that he supports the direction you are going.  I would also like you to know that the best volunteers and most committed may not be in your ministry yet or on the fringe.  I have seen this to be true.  When you recognize their passion for kids and families, invest and invest and invest.  This pays huge dividends for the Kingdom.

The last thing I would suggest is for you to be you.  Do not try and model what everyone else is doing.  This is where prayer is so important.  God has called you to this position to make disciples of kids and families.  Remember Proverbs 3:6.  God is faithful.  Again congratulations on your obedience to Christ and going where He sends you.

For His Glory,

Donnie

Hi Sarah,

I am so excited that you are taking on this new position!  I will be praying for you and your church.  I am from the Etobicoke area.

 

I have been in children's ministry (volunteer...not paid) for many years. You may be young but you have a heart for the children and to me that is important.  During your first months at the church you will make mistakes but you can learn from them.  As you learn from them you will grow into a better leader.

 

First and foremost, I would say, is to get to know each of the leaders and volunteers in the children's ministry...talk to them, see what makes them excited about working in the children's ministry, listen to their concerns and frustrations, get to know them and their families and truly care for them - all of this will help you understand your new ministry and those you will work with.    Help your volunteers to catch your vision for the ministry.  Also, build a rapore with your pastor(s)/leadership so that you can bounce ideas off of them if you want to.    Don't go into the ministry and make big changes.  If changes need to be made make them a little at a time.  

If you can, attend at least one children's ministry conference each year.  There are two excellent ones that I attend and the workshops are so helpful both to the novice and the seasoned children's ministry worker.

 

More than anything, PRAY.     I will certainly be praying for you and your ministry.  If you want to connnect I'm at vwlegalbeagle@gmail.com.

Woohoo! 

What a privilege and blessing for you!  We currently have a younger person on our staff that has bumped into a few challenges because of her younger age.  She is handling it with grace and style, tho!  :)

There will be a 'honeymoon' time - few weeks to a few months - during which everyone will LOVE you and everything you do.  I would spend that time getting to know people, programs and key leaders well.  Spend time serving alongside the volunteers in the different areas so you can really know how things are going.  I wouldn't make a lot of changes during that time... unless, of course, the ministry is trainwrecking and they NEED CHANGE to happen to survive!  :) 

When you do decide to try something new or make changes, bringing key leaders and volunteers into your decision making process will help your new plan to succeed.  They will feel valued and you will definitely learn from their experience - even if you learn how you DON'T want to do something!  :):)

Most importantly, commit to spending time PRAYING DILIGENTLY for your volunteers, your kids, your families...

God Bless

Sarah, I'm 23. To be honest, our age is our biggest issue. But it is also our greatest asset. My mom is a kid pastor, and I have been teaching, writing curriculum, promoting, decorating, whatever was asked of me for 10+ years. You'd think that growing up helping to plan programing and learning to deal with difficult people and situations I'd feel ready to run a ministry on my own. But I honestly don't think I could. I face situations everyday in which the wisdom of my mom and our more mature volunteers is greater than my own, and I realize I'm still learning. Your age and inexperience will be you biggest problem if you let it. Don't try to prove that your youth doesn't matter. It does. I've see it take down pastors before. If you know wise people with passion and experience in ministry, lean on them for advice. Partner with pastors and volunteers whose heart is truly to serve the church body. And if it ever get to be too much, don't be afraid to back down and seek help. But don't let anyone look down on you either. You are an adult and a leader. The vision God gives you for this ministry is meant to serve him and the kids/families in your church. Act decisively and un apologetically on the wisdom the Holy Spirit gives you. Not all "advice" from man is wise, and you will not make friends with everyone. But that is ok. The kids and adults need to see you make wise decisions and understand that your motives are to serve God and to love his church. When they see that, the people who matter and are like - minded will respect and follow your vision. Give everything time so you can truly learn about the people - how to serve them as God wants you to and you can best lead them in serving the kids. It is better to do things right than to do them quickly.

Hey Sarah, 

Congrats on your first paid ministry position!! This is super exciting for you and those you will be working with!  I have been in full time ministry for 3 years now and paid for 2. I also started out at 21 and here are some things I learned with being a single guy and only 21.

1. Learn to Listen: What I mean by this is ask a ton of questions to your leadership team/volunteers/board/pastors. Ask about what has been done in the past and learn what has been tried and why they succeeded or failed. A couple of my favorite questions are: 

  • What is the best way to do this? 
  • Did we accomplish our goals with this? If not how can we?
  • What does our vision say about this? Does this fit into our vision?
  • How can I help you do your job better? (This one is tough but so so good)

2. Break Bread: Have meals with your volunteers regularly. This is meant to build relationships with them not to talk shop. Spend time getting to know their family and what it is that makes them tick. This will allow you to know them better and how to use them the best. This will also build up your relational bank with them so when you ask a crazy thing or bring a really radical idea to the table they will be behind you because they know you...they have broken bread with you.

3. Be ok with being wrong: I have said in the last 2 years more than ever in my life "I was wrong. I am sorry." Don't waste time arguing who is at fault. A pastor once told me "A great leader is quick to take blame and slow to take credit." What he was saying is even if its not your fault take the blame for it. And when something goes well give all the credit to your volunteer staff. And this leads me to number 4.

4. Thank your leaders always!: Let them know you appreciate them and couldn't do the ministry without them. You know it. They know it but it needs to be said more than twice a year. Drop a thank you note in the mail for them. Let them know what they do is worthwhile and noticed.

5. Read Read Read: Read everything you can get your hands on about leadership, Children's Ministry and whatever else you can! Not every reader is a leader but every leader is a reader! A few books that I suggest for your first year:

  • I Blew it by Brian Dollar
  • Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley 
  • Shift by Brian Haynes
  • Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels 
  • The Gospel, Football and Zombies by Regie Joiner

I am excited to hear and see how you lead the ministry God has given you! As Bonnie mentioned this social media site is an amazing tool for questions, prayers, ideas, and just good fellowship with like minded people. Don't be afraid to ask questions on here there are a ton of well seasoned and experienced people on here that are willing to share their knowledge you just have to ask. So WELCOME to the CM Club!! You're going to do great! 

P.S. If you would like to talk more or anything just email me at office@valleychristian.cc or PM me on here. 

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