Then I inherited a giant time-sucker: a
weekday preschool with more than 100 children and 12 employees. I
quickly appointed one employee to be the administrator, but the
school was still ultimately under my authority. Like a millstone, a
pile of paperwork was always on my desk. Never-ending reports,
reviews, and budgets tried to steal my joy. As my umbrella of
responsibilities at church kept expanding, I felt less like a
pastor and more like the ringmaster of an underfunded circus.
I considered changing my title from children's pastor to a hybrid
such as attorney/office manager/accountant/police officer/marital
counselor/graphic artist/Web designer/first-aid trainer/trend
watcher/meeting aficionado/conflict resolver/master planner/sound
technician/computer engineer/communications director/all-around
As dramatic as all this sounds, I'm far from alone. Every
children's minister eventually faces similar issues. So how can we
keep the main thing-- young hearts--the main thing? Let me share
some tips that have helped me keep children at the center of my
Focus on names. Although I'm pretty good with
names, at a big church there are simply too many to remember. So I
focus on learning children's names first, even before the parents'
and volunteers' names. I want each child to feel as if I know him
Our names are important to us, and we all feel better when people
remember them. This is doubly true of children--who also lack the
perspective to realize how many names we adults must juggle. Yes,
sometimes I have to address a child as "kiddo" or "buddy," and
twins are tricky (at one point, our children's ministry had seven
sets!). But I always try my best.
Stay in touch with children. One simple, fun way
I get to know upper-elementary kids better--and make them feel
special--is by visiting them in school. At Christian schools, I'm
invited to eat on special "Lunch With Your Pastor" days. As I eat
and chat with "my kids," I realize that some pastors don't know
which children are from their church.
Public and home schools can be more
challenging, but with some help from parents, visits are possible.
And the impact is long-lasting.
Cut down on time-eating tasks. I love preparing
lessons and teaching, but many times I use a prepared curriculum
with only minor tweaks. Loads of free, high-quality materials can
save tons of prep time for you and your staff. Any bit of time
saved leaves more room in your schedule for the essentials of
Delegate. To maintain your passion for
shepherding children, delegating is essential--on weekdays as well
as weekends. When I needed more office help and accountability than
volunteers could provide, I pleaded, begged, and cajoled to get a
part-time administrative assistant.
Don't forget to seek volunteers who want to help with children's
ministry but not work directly with the kids. One woman helped
purchase and clean supplies. Another person made reminder calls to
volunteers and helped find replacements for last-minute