A pastor called me recently asking my thoughts on what their new Children’s Ministry Director should do to get started. After 30 minutes on the line, he shared with me that he was in the car and could I send him everything I’d just said by email. Ha! My response, “Absolutely, but not today.” I was in the middle of our 3rd day of Ultimate Camp, setting rosters for the next Sunday, finalizing the new school year calendar of events, lunch was on my desk, and two amazing high school girls were stuffing parent packets within 3 feet of me.
Everyone will offer something different, but he called me, so this is what I shared…
Get Immediate Expectations – Pastor, please meet with your new CMD and inform them clearly, preferably in writing, of what you want to see within the next 90 days. Two questions I’ve always asked the senior pastor/my supervisor were, “What looks like success to YOU?”, and “Tell me about the best CMD you ever knew.” This is the starting standard.
Get the church rhythm – Pastor, please give your new CMD an idea of what the church calendar will look like over the next year, even an overview, so that if a Christmas Eve play or Mother’s Day special music is expected, your new CMD doesn’t hear about it two week’s prior by a passing church leader in the hallway. OR peruse the bulletins over the last year after you give the church secretary/admin a Diet coke over crushed ice.
Get covered in Prayer – SPRC, please set up a weekly prayer team of 2 or 3 (Matthew 18:20) for your new CMD’s first 6 months. This dedicated prayer covers a multitude of misunderstandings and invites a great deal of favor.
Get Connected – Require your new CMD to get connected with other kidmin champions in the area. Each North Georgia UMC Conference District has a networking group and the contact people can be found here. The research claims the average ‘life span’ of a new director of children’s ministry is 18 months…unless connected with others outside their own house/church. This is an investment into the long-term.
Get the Resources – Share the closed Children’s Ministry Facebook groups in the area that are available to safely and confidently ask questions, share resources, and know what trainings are happening near and far.
Get the book – Sustainable Children’s Ministry: From Last-minute Scrambling to Long-term Solutions by Mark DeVries and Annette Safstrom. It’s all about setting up the systems that build a healthy ministry and a healthy ministry leader. This is a go-to book for every new and old CMD.
Get a coach – Even Olympians need a coach for encouragement, focus, direction, and a partner in ministry outside their own house/church. A person to talk with the new CMD one-on-one about insights, discuss the book above, etc. In the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, we have an amazing coach in Rev. Debby Fox. She’s a great connector and can offer names and contacts of other CMDs all over North Georgia with varying expertise and experiences.
Denominational theology – The pastor asked if I thought taking a class or two at seminary would help this new CMD in understanding Methodist theology. I don’t know about that. What I do know is that any new CMD is on the fast-track, because Sunday comes every week. I’ve discovered a jewel in the first seven podcasts of Small Groups in the Wesleyan Way presented by Discipleship Ministries. Rev. Scott Hughes and Rev. Steve Manskar do an excellent job of giving vocabulary, history, and a theological basis for the United Methodist Church and the Wesleyan way of approaching ministry. I never miss an episode.
Yes, this seems like a lot, but Sunday’s coming. These are all goals that can be accomplished within the first 90-120 days of employment. These are just my thoughts. What are yours?
“I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.” Philemon 1:6