Leadership is influence. Unfortunately, there are some people in Children’s Ministry who believe it’s all about the title. Leadership at its lowest level is title-centered. For example, I am the coordinator, I am the director, the pastor just made me the facilitator over this children’s group in the Children’s Ministry. The list goes on. It is a mistake for people to think that a title alone makes them a leader. Leadership is and will always be influence. Nothing more, nothing less. The inability to lead is a big, big problem in Children’s Ministry. This is because most people are attracted to the title of leadership without the understanding of how to lead. Leadership is all about influencing the area that you are over. If you are not influencing that area, then you are not a leader. To effectively run a Children’s Ministry department, you have to be a leader who leads by influence, even through a pandemic.
There is a critical need for leaders who can effectively influence their respective areas, irrespective of whether your title reflects it or not. For example, you may have been responsible for the check-in station. But if you have proven yourself to be incapable of providing guidance to the parents or utilizing the equipment properly, then your leadership over that activity should be reevaluated. If the family pastor has to regularly come to the rescue to bring order or provide guidance, then you are neither adding value nor demonstrating true leadership. The title may be intact, but you’re obviously not leading that area in the way that it should be lead. Effective churches of tomorrow require someone who possesses real leadership abilities that can bring direction and order to their prospective areas whether inside or outside the 4 walls of the church. A person who cannot bring direction cannot effectively give direction or bring order to an area.
Leadership is also establishing a vision of where you want the ministry to go even during a pandemic. When you are a leader you have the ability to see where the ministry is and where it is going. There are a lot of Children’s Ministry leaders who have no clue on where they are taking the department. There are others still trying to figure out if they even like children. They may have a commitment to serve, but their leadership qualities have never been fully developed. These leaders are extremely challenged because they don’t understand the true definition of leadership.
Leadership requires that you produce results in your area of responsibility. If you cannot produce results, then maybe you’re not a leader. No one should ever be chosen to be a leader over a department based solely off of their availability or tenure at the church. Unfortunately, being a long time member is not what makes you a leader. Being a good tither doesn’t automatically make you a leader. Even liking kids does not make you a good leader. Now don’t get me wrong, all of those things are great qualities to have. Being a long time member at a church, a faithful tither, and one who enjoys children may make you qualified to serve in those respective areas, but it does not qualify you to lead those areas. Children’s Ministry leaders of tomorrow must discover what real leadership is, and commit to applying the necessary principles to become a leader. Then and only then will you find yourself producing results.
You cannot depend on your pastor’s influence to lead your department.You cannot depend on the student ministry director to lead your department. You cannot depend on the family ministry director to lead your department. Everyone, not just the official ministry staff, can exercise leadership. Even if your area of responsibility is limited to a class with 5 third graders on Zoom, you are responsible for studying what it means to grow and develop as an effective teacher in that space. Remember, title is the lowest level when it comes to leadership. But influence breathes life onto the title, which makes you an exceptional person with a title. Always aim for the influence beyond riding the title. If you have to constantly throw out your title, then you are probably struggling to meet other elements of effective leadership. Leadership doesn’t just talk the talk, but it must also walk the walk.
The need for critical thinking, vision casting, team building, and strategic planning all begins with leadership. The challenge we have in Children’s Ministry is that there are a lot of people who have a love for children, but have very little understanding on real leadership. Not only do we need Children’s Ministry leaders who are committed to learning how leadership works, but we need leaders who are committed to becoming dynamic in that area of ministry. Looking for some tips to become the dynamic leader you were called to be? Here are some tips to help get you started.
Continual learners: leaders are continual learners. Leaders are readers. Leaders are engaged in becoming better in the areas assigned to them and are constantly researching the times to better reach children and their families.
Focus on vision: Leaders focus on vision not things. Things come and go but vision is the ultimate reason why leaders exist. A leader has the ability to see beyond where they are to where they are going. A leader without a vision is not a leader at all, but simply someone with a title.
People-centered over program-centered:If you don’t have a team, you’re not a leader. If people are not following you, you are not a leader. In Children’s Ministry, we need leaders who understand that they need people in order to fulfill their assignment. Jesus said to his disciples “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19 NKJV). Even Jesus understood that in order to fulfill his assignment in the earth he needed people. The greater your assignment the more people you’re going to need. The greater the magnitude of your Children’s Ministry, the more people skills you will have to develop. Dynamic leaders understand that it’s not their charisma on the stage, or their academic accolades, or who they know. It’s all about who they can bring and build around them for a common goal to advance the kingdom. Dynamic leaders is what Children’s Ministry needs and will continue to need well into the future. Unless you become the leader that is capable of meeting the demand of the vision that has been placed on your Children’s Ministry, then your department will be limited in what it is able to produce. It is time to Wake Up and become a dynamic leader and influence your church and community for God.
In the age of Covid-19 it has never been more important to grasp this concept of leadership and become the dynamic leader you were called to be. Children and families are looking to you to lead well. Are you up to the challenge?