Gaining Respect For Your Ministry, Part 2

In my first post in this series I talked about the secret issue of many children’s ministers: disrespect. I suggest you head over and read that post before continuing.

It’s important for us to remember that we are a support ministry, we’re not part of the big show, and on our best day will still be playing second fiddle. That position is not a punishment, it’s our God-given position. We can bloom there or become bitter, brittle and dry.

Which of us haven’t been asked when we’re planning to become real pastors? Or, “What do you do all week?” or my favorite, “I can tell why you work with kids, you’re just a big kid yourself!” These things aren’t just annoying or offensive, they’re a window into the viewpoint of our congregation, and ultimately a hindrance to the growth and development of our ministry. In other words, it’s easer to do ministry that people understand and respect.

There are several things we can do to improve the way our ministry as a whole is perceived in our own churches.

Run an excellent program

Excellence has nothing to do with budget, volunteers, children’s ministry spaces or support. Excellence is doing the most you can with what you have. So many children’s ministers play the “if only” game. We decide that there are things we could do “if only” we had the resources we needed (human, financial, building, etc.) In reality that’s not dreaming big, or shooting for excellence. It’s a poor (no pun intended) excuse for not doing what God has called you to do. He’s put you where you are. In the Parable of the Talents, each man was given a different amount to work with. Many of us feel like the third guy who got the least. We know how the story ends… but imagine if that third man had taken the little he had an used it to the best of his ability. I believe that he would have been rewarded above all the others for his faithfulness and resourcefulness. The last shall be first and all that.

Remember what God says about those who are faithful over little… they’ll be made master over much. He loves it when folks make miracles happen in tight spaces. So do people. We’re all inspired by stories of folks who make lemonade out of lemons so to speak. Disappointment tells God that we’re not thankful for what He has provided. So even if you have nothing, do your best with it. People will see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven. They might also want to help you out.

Enforce policy

For some reason people think the rules are different at church. They’ll obey the policies of the private school they send their child to, but they’ll try to stomp all over yours. Some of your volunteers may also have a careless attitude toward your policies, expectations and standards. When we let things slide or try to keep the peace in the moment, we lose. If your policies are correct and you believe in them, you should enforce them. It’s not easy or fun, but rules that aren’t enforced aren’t respected. And by connection, your ministry will be thought of as lax and unsafe.

Keep areas and storage clean

Sometimes it’s the little things that matter… and when your pastor or co-workers see your storage spaces or your backstage area, they make a judgment about your entire ministry. Parents do the same thing when they look inside their child’s classroom. If it’s messy, dark, out-of-date, or God-forbid, dirty, you’re just asking folks to not take your ministry seriously.

Children’s ministry comes with a ton of “stuff”. And I understand not wanting to get rid of it all. My theory is that a children’s ministers closet will never be clean, but it can be organized. Like a can of sardines… the contents may be nasty, but man they’re sure stacked in there nice. Keep your stuff put away. Keep the floor clear. Keep your backstage area organized and vacuumed. Go through everything twice a year and clean house. Three piles: keep, give and trash. In your classrooms decorations should be changed quarterly (with curriculum changes). Closets and cabinets should be cleaned twice a year. Trash emptied after each class.

They say that cleanliness is next go Godliness… and in the case of your areas, I would agree completely.

Next Post

In the next post I’ll address several other things we can do personally to improve our “image” and the level of respect you will earn.

What are some of the things you would suggest to raise the respect level of your entire ministry? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

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