How to Have Longevity in Children’s Ministry
By Scott Kinney
My name is Scott Kinney and I am the Children’s Pastor at Seacoast Church in Mount Pleasant, SC. I have been on staff with Seacoast for 12+ years and have been involved with Children’s ministry in every possible capacity since I was 16 years old …and that was a long time ago! Over the years, I have faced frustration, aggravation, and burn-out. So, how am I still doing this after all those years? It’s kind of simple, it’s my calling.
Oh, I have wanted to walk away, not just from Children’s Ministry, but ministry all together. There were times in ministry that I thought it would be more fulfilling to work as a greeter at Wal-Mart. To be able to stand and say hello as folks walked by, give a smiley face sticker to a kid (do they even do that at Wal-Mart anymore?) or to point someone in the right direction. Yes, there have been times I wanted to give up ministry all together. The problem was… God hadn’t released me. In those times, I had to stop and realign myself with the calling God had placed on my life. Here are some things I have learned over the years, when I wanted to throw in the towel and just give up.
- Am I working at a job or a calling? – In those moments when I’m frustrated, God reminds me that HE has called me to this. It isn’t a job, it isn’t a career – it is a calling – and until he releases me from where he has called me, I am to keep on running the race that is before me. I have a poster that hangs on my bulletin board by my desk that was put out by Group Publishing a few years ago. It is titled “Job or Ministry?” I keep it there to remind me that “Some people have a job in the church, others involve themselves in ministry!” I never want my work for the Lord to become just a job – but to continue to do ministry for the One who called me.
- Who am I working for? – Another thing I need to check myself on is who am I trying to please? Am I working to please my Senior Pastor, my Campus Pastor, my team, the children, the parents, my family, myself? …the list goes on and on! When I forget that God called me to Children’s Ministry and when I take focus off of pleasing Him, I get frustrated, mad and upset. I’m not talking just about Children’s Ministry programing, I’m also talking about things like: Am I wearing the right clothes? Do I have the right “look”? Am I still young and hip enough to do what I do? When I try to please man it makes me lose focus on what really matters. Only when I stop and realize the reason I do what I do is for an audience of ONE can I put things in perspective and refocus on my calling.
- How is my God time? – I know what you are thinking, “you work for God, you’re always spending time with Him.” Not true. I can easily get wrapped up in thinking that because I am working on a weekend or midweek lesson that it counts as “quiet time with the Lord”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Now, there have been lots of times that God teaches me things when I am preparing a lesson, but it is not actually my time with God, it really is work. I need to regularly check myself and ask: Have I been spending time with God? Am I reading His word? Talking to Him? Listening to Him? It’s easy for me to talk to God, but to be still and listen to Him takes a lot more work on my end. If this is an area of my life and walk that is not so good, I might need to take some time away from the office and get things right with God first. I’m of no use to my team, or the children I’m responsible for, if I am not in alignment with God. Another area of my God time is: Am I being fed? Am I attending regular worship services? I know after all my time in Children’s Ministry, it isn’t easy to get into attend a service on the weekends, so what we have started doing as a Children’s Ministry team is watching the message together on Monday morning. Fortunately for us here at Seacoast, we have an Online service and the online campus pastor set up a special service just for us to watch on Monday mornings. However, if your church does not record weekend services, there are tons of churches out there that do – watch a podcast together as a team or another online church service. However, it is not where we want to be as a team. Our goal is to have enough strong leaders (volunteers) leading the classrooms so that we can attend services with our families – that is the ultimate goal. So for now, we found a quick fix and that is attending together as a team on Monday mornings.
- What is the enemy up to? – One other area I need to look at when I get to the point of giving up is: What is the enemy up to? We really do have an enemy in our lives. It’s not the kids or their parents. It’s not your boss, your co-workers, or even your spouse – there is a real enemy lurking about. The Bible says in John 10:10 that the thief (Satan) comes to steal, kill and destroy. What is it that the enemy is trying to steal from you? Your joy? The children in your ministry? What is he trying to kill? Your passion for serving kids and families? What is he trying to destroy? Your work? Your calling? There are times when I want to throw in the towel and God reminds me of the enemy and tells me to stand my ground! Satan would like nothing more than to see all of us throw up our hands and say “we quit!” I would hate to quit and allow the enemy to win in the life of one of our kids. Remember Ephesians 6:10-18
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[c] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[d] 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[e] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.[f]
So, let me wrap up by saying that Children’s Ministry is not easy and there will be times you want to throw in the towel and take a job at Wal-Mart, but don’t! You will be missing out on some of the most wonderful blessings you could ever imagine.
For those of you leading Children’s Ministry Directors, Ministers, or Pastors be sure to encourage them. Be sure to pour into them, love on them, and appreciate them. Watch for signs of burnout or frustration and step in and offer to help out. Help them to remember that they are called by God to do what they are doing. Remind them that they are working for an audience of ONE! Ask them how their time with God is going? Pray for them and against the attack of the enemy. They really are valuable to your church. I heard a Children’s Pastor once say; “You can do church without greeters and ushers – things might get crazy but you can do it. You can even do church without coffee and donuts. But try doing church without Children’s Ministry and things will shut down quickly.” Children’s Ministry isn’t babysitting anymore – it is hard work dealing with kids, parents and volunteers week after week. Show some love to your Children’s workers today – you’ll be glad you did.