You know how important it is to have a phenomenal children’s ministry.
In his book Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, researcher George Barna reveals that children between the ages of 5–13 have about 32 percent likelihood of accepting Jesus. It drops to 4 percent between 14–18, and then rises to only 6 percent among adults. This means that if your church is serious about evangelism, its focus will be on developing a strong children’s ministry.
Your KidMin program is also a powerful outreach tool. Many adults lose touch with the church until they start having their own children. That’s when they remember how important church was in their development, and begin to reconsider the importance of the church’s influence. A healthy children’s ministry is one of the main draws to a new church.
When you think about how children’s ministry sets the course for a child’s future and can be the vehicle that helps families discover and serve Jesus, it becomes a pretty high-profile ministry.
The importance of a KidMin director
If you’re serious about building an unstoppable children’s ministry, it’s time to hire a KidMin director. This is the person that carries the passion for this ministry, manages all the moving pieces, and keeps the volunteers happy and engaged.
After the pastor, this is the first position you want your church to be able to compensate for a full-time position. There are very few positions in the church with as much responsibility and potential for dramatically influencing growth.
Sure, volunteers can work wonders in this position, but they’re often caught in a tug-of-war between many conflicting responsibilities. Having a full- or part-time KidMin director guarantees greater focus and dedication. And it’s a lot easier to hold a paid employee accountable to your church’s goals than it is a volunteer.
If you’re looking to hire a KidMin director, we put together a list of 12 traits you want to look for (we didn’t include a vibrant personal faith—that’s a given):
1. KidMin directors must love kids
A lot of the qualities we suggest you look for are strong organizational and leadership skills, but if they’re not really a kid person, you’re already at a disadvantage. This person is going to be interacting with children every day and the kids will quickly discern the director’s disposition toward them.
Ask most Christian adults about their experience as kids in children’s church, and they probably won’t remember too many of the lessons. What they will remember is how their teacher made them feel. If the teacher was a grump, that sticks with them. And they fondly remember every teacher that demonstrated that they were loved and important. They can tell you whether their children’s Sunday school teacher was pleasant and joyful or severe and business-like.
A director’s love of children will be demonstrated in how they talk about ministry. This will have an impact on the volunteers who deal directly with the kids, and it will be clearly communicated to the parents as well. It’s critical that this person has a soft spot in their heart for your little ones.
2. KidMin directors must be good leaders
Next to loving children, this person is being hired to lead others. That means so much more than recruiting and scheduling children workers. It means that they’re transmitting their passion and purpose to the people working alongside them.
Leadership is all about influence, and your KidMin director should draw out the best in their volunteers and workers. They should also recognize other volunteers with leadership potential and find ways to encourage and promote them. And even know how to motivate others who may have trouble finding their footing in kids’ ministry.
When big problems occur, they need to be the person everyone naturally turns to for direction. And they become that person by exhibiting grace under pressure, and by not being afraid to make difficult (or sometimes unpopular) decisions in order to secure a good outcome.
3. KidMin directors should have immediate and long-term goals
Children’s ministry shouldn’t be about creating a system that can run indefinitely. One of the struggles that a lot of ministries face is that they empower people with the ability to create a structure that works really well, but eventually people become reliant on that structure. A good KidMin director is motivated by succeeding, not maintaining. You want a strategic leader who can deal with short-term challenges while meeting long-term goals.
To accomplish this, they need to have a vision that’s scalable. Since they’re planning for growth, they’re creating a structure that’s flexible and dynamic. It takes a real strategic leader to create an environment that isn’t reliant on a system, and has enough faith in their adaptability and leadership to be open to change.
This requires a leader who is always up for a challenge and ready for change. They see a goal in the horizon, and they recognize that there are a number of roads that will get them there. When they hit roadblocks, detours, and unforeseen circumstances, they aren’t paralyzed. They trust themselves to find another route.
4. KidMin directors should be resourceful
Even in the largest churches, a KidMin director isn’t going to have access to everything they’d like to make the job easier. This is why it’s important for them to be resourceful and leverage the resources and talents at their disposal to meet their personal and professional goals.
They should be inventive with what they have. Almost anyone can be successful with access to unlimited resources. The resourceful leader can create something new out of what’s already obtainable. They’re not fretting over the current number of volunteers or the budget that they’re stuck with, they’re dreaming up new ways to empower the people they have, recruit the people they don’t, use the resources they have, and creatively secure what they need.
Being resourceful also means that this individual should be on top of the latest trends and news in the children’s ministry and educational fields. They’re aware of what’s new and cutting edge changes in other ministries. They’re also aware of new tech solutions being used by other churches and considering ways that these tools could empower them do more.
5. KidMin directors should be innovative
There’s a lot of copying that goes on in children’s ministry. As soon as a church finds some success with a new idea, a lot of other churches rush to try it out themselves—with mixed results. This isn’t a bad thing. If you can recreate the success that another church is experiencing, it’s almost irresponsible not to try. The key is finding a leader that isn’t afraid to try out other churches’ effective ideas, but isn’t reliant upon them.
Innovation is not about asking, “How can we do this differently than everyone else?” It’s about constantly looking for ways to do things more effectively. Leaders become innovative when they’re on the hunt for ways to take the cap off of their current level of success. They recognize where the boundaries and roadblocks are and work to remove them.
A truly innovative leader doesn’t need to be the originator of an idea. Their strength lies in recognizing a good idea when they hear it and envisioning a way to bring that idea to fruition. We tend to think of innovation as a purely creative endeavor, but a truly innovative leader has the ability to form a complete vision around a new idea—or even a new version of an old idea.
6. KidMin directors should understand marketing
You’re not necessarily looking for someone with a background in marketing (although that wouldn’t hurt). You’re looking for someone who clearly understands the value of promotion. They understand the importance of not skimping on the time and energy it takes to promote an event or an outreach. If given the choice, they’d rather have a good event that’s well attended than an amazing event with a poor turnout.
They understand how to get the word out about their upcoming fundraiser or VBS. They’re not afraid to build relationships with local businesses and ask for favors, or to reach out to other churches for help and support. And they know how to motivate, encourage, and delegate promotion to their volunteers as well.
They have a working understanding of how to use social media to promote their ministry and events. They’re paying attention to how successful churches use their online platforms, and are thinking about ways they can improve on those ideas for their own ministry.
7. KidMin directors are collaborative
Diverse teams produce incredible results, but it requires a leader who recognizes strengths in others and draws them out. Instead of building a homogenous structure that kills creativity, a good KidMin leader creates an environment that encourages creativity and reveals everyone’s strengths.
This person is constantly pulling volunteers and workers in from the periphery and asking for their input and ideas, infusing the entire team with confidence and increasing the likelihood for leaps forward in productivity and innovation.
The power of a collaborative leader is that they’re not reliant on a top-down leadership structure. They prefer to invest in a system that allows for fluctuations in roles and responsibilities. They’re generous listeners and love to affirm the ideas of others. And, like any good improv partner, an awesome leader is constantly asking, “Yes, and?”
8. KidMin directors take initiative
The last thing your church needs is a leader who’s waiting for direction. A good KidMin leader is enterprising and takes the initiative to solve ministry problems and respond to challenges. If anything, it’s better to have someone you may need to rein in occasionally rather than someone you feel like you’re constantly monitoring or prodding.
This means that this person should be more afraid of inactivity than failure. They’re willing to take risks and try new things. They understand that inaction doesn’t protect them from failure; it obstructs their success. Where others might wait for a better time, a safer situation, or to be confident about the results, a leader with initiative is going to roll up their sleeves and dive in.
Initiative creates leaders that are constantly learning, growing, and advancing. They’re proactive instead of reactive in the way that they respond to challenges and difficulties.
9. KidMin directors think about families
As important as children’s ministry is, it can’t be done in a vacuum. Faith flourishes in environments where a children’s ministry is working in tandem with parents. KidMin directors prioritize finding ways to get families more involved in each child’s religious education. They’re not simply wishing that parents would participate; they’re dreaming up ways to get them more involved.
This means that they’re looking to empower parents to overcome the fears that they may feel about having spiritual conversations with their children. They understand the nervousness parents feel about being unprepared for these discussion, and make sure that they’re equipped with the necessary resources to have meaningful conversations with their children. They recognize the importance of keeping parents informed about what’s happening and involved in KidMin.
Ultimately, this doesn’t just disciple the child, but it becomes an avenue for parents to connect to and express their own faith. And in this way, children’s ministry becomes a ministry with the potential to change the lives of entire families.
10. KidMin directors are serious about security
For a children’s ministry to be effective, it needs to be secure. Parents are trusting your church to take the security of their children seriously, so your KidMin director needs to as well.
This means that they’re making sure that there are:
- Background and criminal checks on anyone dealing with children
- Policies in place for checking children in and out
- Plans and procedures in case of emergency
- Working smoke detectors
- Well-trained volunteers who know what to do in critical situations
The number of threats to children seem to have grown more sophisticated in the last couple of decades, churches need to step up to not only meet those threats, but to make parents feel secure about trusting the church with their kids. A good KidMin director will find ways to put parents at ease regarding the safety of their children.
11. KidMin directors reproduce leaders
As awesome as it is to have a superstar KidMin director, you want to know that everything in your ministry isn’t riding on one person. You need someone in leadership who’s finding, recruiting, and empowering future leaders so that the children’s ministry will always move forward and prosper.
Since potential leaders are usually busy (that’s one way you recognize them), a good KidMin leader knows that they can’t wait for potential leaders to come to them. They have to go out and actually recruit these leaders. They have an eye for leadership candidates, and they’re willing to pitch diamonds in the rough on the benefits of joining their ministry and working with them. This way they can work at developing these people into real leaders.
Once they’ve developed a leader, they allow them to lead. They delegate responsibilities and equip them to succeed. Because your KidMin director’s vision is (and should be) larger than their capacity, they’re not afraid to give up responsibility to others. That just means that they have more time to pursue the next goal. In many ways, you want a KidMin leader who’s constantly working themselves out of a job.
12. KidMin directors have endurance
Children’s ministry isn’t for the faint of heart. You’re always striving against organizational entropy while smoothing the feathers of an upset parent or an unhappy volunteer. It’s not an easy position. If they’re not careful, a KidMin director will burn out way too soon.
You want to know that this candidate has developed an ability to maintain a pace that makes sense for them. Like a cheetah, they may be able to accomplish a lot when they’re sprinting, but they can’t keep up that pace for very long. This means that they need to be careful about what they prioritize and how they delegate. Trying to accomplish too much, too soon will only end in disaster.
An important element in building up organizational stamina lies in an unwillingness to stop working toward their specific goal, even in the face of competing short-term initiatives and programs. If you want a KidMin director who can go the distance, get one who will tell you no.
Your children’s ministry is an important investment
It would be hard to argue that children’s ministry is unimportant. When you get down to it, a KidMin director is an investment in transforming and retaining families. And having a child in an a healthy KidMin program offers the best opportunity that they’ll grow up with their own vibrant faith.
Once you pair a terrific KidMin director with a dynamic children’s ministry, your potential explodes. In order to take it one step further, we’ve creates a free ebook entitled The Science of KidMin. It takes a close look at how children’s ages affect they way they learn. This guide will help your team engage kids at their learning level. Download your copy now!