Become a church-wide change agent from your kidmin seat
Terry sat on the edge of his seat listening to the passion of the conference keynote speaker as she shared, “The strength of the church is only as strong as the strength of its families!”
Daphne, hearing the same message, found herself coming unglued. All she was able to think about was how exhausted she was taking it upon herself to lead a family vision for her church while she was leading the children’s ministry.
Like Terry, I caught the vision for God’s plan of family. I couldn’t wait to return to my home church to take action toward this vital vision. As I traveled home, I called a ministry mentor friend of mine. Closing our phone conversation, I said, “This will be our best investment that will pay off big when it comes to developing champions of faith within the next generation of our church!”
I couldn’t wait to share this vision with my volunteers. Excitement was definitely in the air!
Within a few months our enthusiasm dwindled. This “best investment” took us away from what we loved most. For me, it was leading a thriving children’s ministry. For my volunteers it was relationally discipling kids. My volunteers began to lose steam. The excitement in the air faded leaving all of us in a fog. I called my ministry mentor friend once again to tell him I had had a change of heart toward this “best investment.” I explained how I was exhausted and frustrated. My volunteers were confused—who was our ministry’s target audience—kids or parents?
I ended the conversation with, “I’m regularly finding myself becoming unglued while feeling kidmin is viewed as a secondary ministry at best within our church leadership.”
He took a deep breath when I finished and asked me a question I will never forget. It’s a question I have asked multiple kidmin leaders like you as I mentor them. Ready? Here it is.
What platform has God given you to influence church leadership?
Platform? Kidmin leaders have a platform of influence?
Yes, we do! God has given you and me the dream of changing the spiritual trajectory of every child we lock eyes with. He wants us to focus on Him, humbly asking for wisdom in this great adventure. In addition to this God-given dream, God has given you and me a platform to not only influence our volunteers but also those leading ministry around us and those leading ministry above us.
For your church and mine strengthening families will require a different belief than what we’re telling ourselves as kidmin leaders today. The foundation of this belief is beautifully shared by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:4-31. Paul identifies the problems in the Corinth church, problems that you and I recognize within our own surroundings. As we read this scripture, we find Paul’s solution in how we can live as Christ would want us to live—as a community that stands for and with one another. What a beautiful picture! Paul’s appeal begins in 1 Corinthians 1:10 where he straightforwardly challenges them to stop arguing among themselves. Instead, Paul continues, the church should live in harmony, being of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
In chapter 12, Paul speaks of spiritual gifts, “to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” to correct the church’s misunderstanding of how they critically affect the future of the church. If you haven’t read the book of 1 Corinthians in a while, I challenge you to it! It will open your eyes toward how to influence in the platform God has given you as a kidmin leader.
Spiritual gifts understanding is the foundation, but what is the belief I am referring to? It’s found in 1 Corinthians 12:27. “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.” We are individual members, separate and necessary to the body. Kidmin is separate from other ministries of the church but certainly not secondary. Kidmin is necessary, not an obstacle in a wheel as many kidmin leaders feel it is seen to be.
So, what is possibly limiting church leadership from seeing and supporting kidmin as a necessary front line ministry? What can you and I do to influence church leadership toward owning family and next generation discipleship with us?
I believe we, as kidmin leaders, aren’t using our platform to influence. As a vital ministry of every church, a kidmin leader must remember he/she has the gift of being heard by church leadership and, in turn, can influence leadership. We lean into coordinating what needs to be done to get our weekends up and running instead of becoming a change agent from our kidmin seats. Having a tunnel-vision focus on coordination, shrinking back from our influential platform and expecting church leadership to stand with us will not bring the change needed in our churches. When I finally understood that trying to implement the latest trends (while persuading church leadership to “get it”) wasn’t going to be the game changers for our ministry, God began to show me who I needed to become.
Matt Markins, Vice President of Ministry Resources for Awana, and I spent this past year gleaning insights from questions we’ve asked to over 340 kidmin leaders, seeking to better understand what kidmin leaders believe about their platform and influence. Based on what we learned, we knew a new vision must be raised to all kidmin leaders! We linked arms with Moody Publishers to write Leading Kidmin: Driving Change in Children’s Ministry.
We’ve broken Leading Kidmin into three parts: helping the readers discern if they are getting ministry right so others will listen to their leadership, having the right as a kidmin leader to influence the grander vision of their church moving forward, and discovering if you as the kidmin leader are driving it right by examining a new posture of leadership.
For the rest of this article, however, I want to focus on a section of the book that is dear to my heart because without it, we will never be able to influence church leadership. What is it? It’s when we find ourselves willing to become a student and supporter of our church leadership. Many of us think we are that type of person, but are we really? I thought I was until my eyes were opened to really understand what others around and above me believe about me being a student and supporter. Self-awareness is so important! In Leading Kidmin we share not only research, but also personal struggles and victories that will help you take action toward becoming a change agent and influencer of the future of your church!
What does it look like to be a student and supporter of senior leadership?
- Remembering your kidmin is “separate and necessary,” and then doing what it takes to lead accordingly.
- Asking God to help you discern how to (sometimes literally) get to the door of senior leadership. Open the conversation with grace and a desire to understand and gain a razor sharp clarity of your ministry.
- Entering every conversation with a desire to hear more, in order to understand and join the vision of church leadership so everyone wins.
- Having the heart as a kidmin leader to be willing to be influenced by the grander vision of your church.
- Having the ability to share clear big-picture issues of your ministry with church leadership versus assuming church leadership already knows.
- Being ready to share compelling stories of your kidmin that tie into the grander vision of your church.
- Ensuring that church leadership’s critical viewpoints are more than being considered but are unified within your ministry mission, values, strategies, and structure.
Taking your platform seriously will help you become a change agent that will be looked at as an influencer of your church’s grander vision. This adventure will build leadership muscles within you for sure! It will take grit, creativity, and a prayerful posture. You can do this!
Ask God for His mercy and wisdom to remind you of His love for your children’s ministry. When you get unglued, and believe me you will at times, reread this article to be reminded God has given you His dream for kids and families of your church. His plan for you is to lock arms with church leadership, not to move from fad to fad, but to make this vision take root as the church of Corinth did after Paul’s departure. Remember, your perspective is different than that of church leadership. Don’t allow Satan to twist your mind in thinking your ministry isn’t important or church leadership just doesn’t care. It is up to you and me as kidmin leaders to change their perspective. You and your church leadership will never completely agree on every issue, but you can work together harmoniously if you agree on what truly matters. That is what your kidmin leader platform is for. Use it to influence others toward the perspective God has placed on your heart.
Let me close with one of my favorite verses from Ephesians. This verse is highlighted and underlined in my Bible, posted in my eyeglass case and in my office. I want to lean into it every time I doubt, every time I limit and judge church leadership that they “don’t get it.” My prayer for you is that you hold onto this verse as well so in those tough, hard days of wanting to walk away from ministry, every time you think unglued thoughts, you will reclaim God’s love and power … and not dare to treat yourself or others with disrespect or as inferior work.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
Stand strong my friends!
Pat Cimo’s heart beats fast toward developing champions of faith. Over the past 28 years, she has had many opportunities to lead change for her church. She transparently shares her ministry journey of strategically building relationships with key influencers and learning how to become a change agent within her church from her kidmin seat in the book titled Leading Kidmin (released August 2016). MoodyPublishers.com