What I Wish I Knew When I Started in Kids Ministry

The longer I serve in kids ministry the more I wish I could go back in time and grab the earlier version of myself by the shoulders and shake him profusely.  “What are you thinking?” “Get it together!”

There are so many things I wish I knew when I started in kids ministry.

As I look back over the years, I think of all the lessons I had to learn the hard way.  The poor leadership, the questionable decisions, the lack of experience and wisdom.

I can’t help but look back at the earlier version of myself, the rookie, with what seemed like unlimited passion and energy and think, I wish I knew that when I started in Kids ministry.

I wish it worked that way. I wish I could go back and supernaturally download experience and learned behavior into an earlier version of myself.  How I would do things different, better, be more intentional.

This post is meant for the person who is running in the same kids ministry race that I am.  You might be just a few microseconds behind me and can learn some lessons that I wish I would have known when I was first starting out in kids ministry.  These are the things that if I could, I would go back and tell a younger version of myself.

Be intentional about your relationship with God.  You can’t take someone where you haven’t gone.  Make your personal discipleship a priority.

Teach application not just information.  Make sure what you are teaching can be lived out the rest of the week.

Stop competing with other departments in your church.  Work together as a team, understand that when any department wins the entire team wins.

Don’t spend all your time, energy and resources on kids.  Every children’s ministry has one set of kids and three sets of adults. Build relationships with other staff in your church, work together, support each other.  Invest in parents, equip them with tools to be the primary disciple makers.  Invest in volunteers, if you want to reach more kids you need to build a team.

Stop creating more fun than depth.  You can read my post, “Kids Ministry Must be More than Fun” here.

Talk more about your ministry vision than your ministry needs.

Don’t neglect your own family to do family ministry.

Make your church attendance a priority.  Make a way to attend worship services on a regular basis.

Learn to be more organized.  Organization is a learned behavior, be intentional and learn it.  David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done. will change your life.  Jim Wideman’s book, “Beat the Clock” will also give you great tools for successful time management.

Overcome procrastinating the important to accomplish the urgent.  Stop focusing on the things you like to do and start doing the most important things.  Two books that have really helped me are,

Brian Tracy’s book, “Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time,”

Gary Keller’s book, “The One Thing: The Surprising simple truth Behind Extraordinary Results”.

Don’t do everything yourself, learn to build a team, duplicate yourself and delegate.

Stop maintaining your ministry and start developing, stretching and growing your ministry.  Jim Wideman really helped me with his book,  “Stretch-Structuring Your Ministry For Growth.” 

You are not the primary disciple maker of the children in your church.  Learn to partner with and equip the parents.  “Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide.”  is a great read.

Make time to exercise and take care of yourself.  You only have one body, don’t wait until its to late to start taking care of it.

Be intentional about investing in your marriage.  Ministry will take everything you are willing to give it.  Don’t allow it to take so much that your marriage and family suffer.  Willard Harley’s book is a must read for married couples.  “His Needs, Her Needs“.

Each of these are things I wish I knew when starting out.  What would you add to your own list?

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About the Author

Andrew VanDerLinden

Andrew is the Executive Pastor at Community Church in Eastern PA.

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