Pursuing Effective Ministry Spiritually and Practically
Children matter to God and children matter to the Church! The first words recorded to have been spoken by God to Adam and Eve were of blessing, and that blessing involved children. From these earliest accounts of Genesis and throughout Scripture, we find value in and promises for children, such as children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3), God has ordered our children’s days (Psalm 139:15, 16), God has determined the purposes for the lives of children (Jeremiah 1:5), and children are to be taught His commands (Deuteronomy 6:6,7).
According to research conducted by the Barna Institute, “nearly half of all people who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%), and two out of three born again Christians (64%) made their commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday” (Barna, 2004). Therefore, we can accept that ministry to children is not only valuable to the Church today but also strategic to its future. Those who serve children should pursue effective ministry.
As Christian leaders, we are cautioned in 2 Corinthians 3:5 (NIV), “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” As ministry leaders, we must never rely entirely on our talents, personality, skills, or competence. According to the Scriptures, the foundation for effective ministerial leadership is not in training, education, or skills development but rather in serving faithfully to God’s call (John 15:16), remaining in relationship with Him (John 15:4), and depending on the empowering work of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17)
As God’s coworkers (1 Corinthians 3:9), He has chosen and called us to join with Him in fulfilling His mission by reaching and serving kids. Second Timothy 2:15 encourages us to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.”
Our calling to serve kids is not a lesser calling. It is to be taken seriously and is worthy of our very best efforts. As we are faithful to Him, walk in relationship with Him, and depend on the Holy Spirit’s empowerment, there are spiritual and practical ways that we can enhance the effectiveness of our ministry calling to kids.
Kidmin leaders should be spiritual leaders. Spiritual leadership requires Spirit-filled people. We must regularly take time to pursue God through spiritual disciplines. These disciplines include; daily Bible reading, Scripture memorization, daily prayer, fasting, personal and corporate worship, fellowship, and confession. These disciplines allow the Holy Spirit to affirm and direct our lives as believers and Christian leaders.
In addition to the spiritual aspects of developing as a leader, there are many practical ways that you can begin to grow in your leadership abilities and knowledge.
Credentialing—The purpose of ministerial credentialing is to provide accountability and authority for the person who recognizes they have been called by God, validate your calling and challenge you to walk worthy of it, and permit you to administer certain sacraments of the Church that a credentialed minister may only administer.
Denominational credentialing is a process of endorsement which the local Church initiates, and begins with a time of preparation and study as a lay minister. If you wish to pursue licensure, discuss your desire with your pastor.
Education—As a leader, you should seek to grow in your pursuits educationally. International Children’s Ministries offers a certification program in two levels, the first being a basic competency level in children’s ministry which leads to endorsement, and level two being a leadership level of training. Other organizations offer additional training and certificate programs. Many universities and seminaries presently offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs in children’s ministry.
Media, Podcasts, and Webinars—Access online videos, recordings, and podcasts related to children’s ministry and leadership. Many topics are discussed on these media channels and are often available free (or at little cost). You can access International Children’s Ministries’ free podcast called Developing Leaders, Impacting Kids, wherever you access podcasts. Additional trainings and archived webinars are available through our website cogop.org/children.
Mentoring—Seek out someone who is presently leading in ministry and ask for their guidance as you pursue ministry. If they are willing, ask if they will mentor you. For an agreed-upon period, perhaps a year, meet regularly with your mentor, pray together, and discuss your areas of strength and weakness. Seek their wisdom concerning your challenges.
Networking—Connect with other children’s ministry leaders in your community or neighboring churches. Consider meeting regularly to discuss your challenges, share ideas, develop strategies, and pray for one another.
Personal Resource Library—Begin building a library of resources to grow your knowledge, understanding, and skill. This library should include children’s ministry books and magazines and resources from other categories such as leadership or education. A recommended list of excellent books is available here.
Serve—Just because you sense a call to leadership does not mean that you will immediately be placed in a leadership position. Be willing to serve where there is a need and do so with excellence. As you are faithful to the small things, opportunities to expand your ministry and influence will likely present themselves to you.
Social Media—Connect with various social media groups and pages where you can network with other ministry leaders, access resources, and receive ideas.
Our ministries to children need effective leaders, individuals who recognize and respond to God’s call. As we grow in our ministry skill, He will use us for His glory and to establish His purposes in the lives of the children we serve. Christian leadership flows out of a deep dependence and communion with God. Both spiritual and practical preparation will enable you to minister more effectively and bear much more fruit.