playground

What I Learned About Vision Alignment From The Playground

Leadership / Leadership //

When my boys were little one of the favorite events for all of us were “playground dates”.  If you’re a parent, you know exactly what these are.  For the kids, a great time of fun.  For parents, a few moments of sanity!

playgroundAs a Dad, my “vision” for this time was to get a Happy Meal, make our way to the playground and read the paper while the boys played, occasionally chasing them to the door of the play structure or pretending to be Godzilla trying to get in.  At first it wasn’t this way – the boys wanted (and expected) me to climb into the structure and play with them the entire time (I quickly discovered it was very easy to get uncomfortably stuck in the tube slide!).  After a few visits I learned to prepare them with my “vision” while we drove there.  My “vision casting” went something like this:

Me: Who wants to go to McDonalds? (in a very excited voice)

Boys: We do! (in even more excited voices)

Me: Who wants a Happy Meal with a toy?

Boys: We do!!

Me: Who wants to play on the playground?

Boys: We do!!!

Me: Who’s gonna let Daddy read the paper while they play?

Boys: We will!!!!

They loved this time and so did I.  Part of its success was everyone simply knowing why we were there and fulfilling their role.  Our “vision” was aligned.

In this post we talked about 7 growth strategies for Children’s Ministry, and aligning vision was #1.  It is absolutely critical that we, as Children’s Ministry leaders, and the ministry we oversee, be aligned with the vision of the Senior leadership & church as a whole.  You will not have a successful ministry if your vision is not aligned.

So how do we do that?  Here’s three thoughts from my playground experiences:

1. Seek alignment before you start. That should come from Senior leadership (like me “vision casting” with my boys on the way to McDonalds), but that doesn’t always happen.  Regardless, it’s your responsibility to be aligned, so you may need to seek clarification and understanding of what that vision is.

2. Accept that the context of the vision is different than the content. My boys and I had the same vision content for our time at McDonalds (a fun time for everyone!), but the context was different for me than it was for the boys (I sat quietly to read the paper while they went wild in the play structure).  Don’t expect senior leadership to be dressing up like Balaam’s donkey in Kids’ Church!  There might be (and should be) occasional involvement, but they are not called to Kid’s Ministry…and that’s ok!

3. Ultimately, Senior leadership sets the agenda for the vision. When I said it was time to go my boys always begged for more time.  Sometimes I allowed it and sometimes I didn’t (because I knew the bigger picture, which they didn’t), but it was always my decision.  You may not like decisions made by senior leadership – or even agree with them – but it is your responsibility as the leader of KidMin to honor their God-given authority for setting the agenda. Ask for changes, communicate the impact of their decisions, seek change – but in the end, they are the leader and we are the follower. I have discovered that most of the time that I was not allowed to go the direction I wanted to go was because it conflicted with the “bigger picture”, of which I did not fully understand.

My boys are teenagers now and we still do lots of things together, but I miss those days on the playground.  We had a lot of fun, spent some great time together and, I gotta say, had way too many Happy Meals (yes, I would get one, too!). I also learned something about aligning my vision with my leaders.

How about you…what have you learned about aligning vision in ministry?

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About the Author

Greg is a children’s ministry veteran of over 25 years who blogs at ChildrensMinistryLeader.com. He now serves Senior Director of Leadership Development at David C Cook, developing and delivering ministry training around the world. He’s a sports nut who married way over his head to Michele, and is kept on his toes by two teenage boys, Taylor and Garret. Website: http://ChildrensMinistryLeader.com; http://Twitter.com/ChildMinLeader; http://Facebook/com/ChildrensMinistryLeader