Recently, I heard someone compare leading a Kids Ministry to having a group project that is due every Sunday. Weekly, we work together with volunteers and trust them to do their part. Leading a Kids Ministry with the endless necessity of volunteers across multiple areas can be stressful and lead to focusing too much on tasks and not the Big Picture of child discipleship. What every Kids Ministry needs isn’t just warm bodies in the rooms, it’s a team of the right people, in the right positions, for the right reasons, with the right focus. Volunteers with a “Big Picture” focus. What could God accomplish in your ministry if you had a team of leaders who were focused on the “Big Picture” of making disciples of children?

Here are four ways you can help create a culture of “Big Picture” focused leaders.

  1. Raise the Bar.

My first ministry experience outside of college was a small church in southern Florida. There hadn’t been much oversight or direction for the kids ministry areas for several years. Part of my task was to refocus and improve the kids ministry. We began by setting the bar high with our leaders. We asked our leaders to agree to standards. By the second month, every single leader had quit, and I was left wondering what had I done wrong? Following the mass exodus of volunteers, the next round of leaders understood the importance and even advocated for our standards. As a leader, it’s easy to make the mistake of not setting the bar high when it comes to kids ministry volunteers. In our hurry to get warm bodies in a classroom, we can be tempted to allow anyone into our ministry areas who is willing to show up, even those who aren’t the right fit for this ministry. Is it time to raise the bar? Setting the bar high might sound difficult, but setting a high bar attracts high bar leaders. Trust me, you want the kind of people who are making disciples of kids in your ministry to be people who personally set the bar high in their own ethic and lifestyle. Those kinds of volunteers will help you create a culture focused on the “Big Picture”.

  1. Communicate the Big Picture.

As a leader, we are always communicating either by our words or actions. If we are not careful, we can communicate that the weekly tasks are the most important thing to focus on. Currently, we are without a preschool Sunday School teacher and find ourselves scrambling week to week to fill that spot. Soon we will be launching a school-year based, midweek program and we are still looking for volunteers. During times of pressure, it is incumbent upon us as leaders to communicate both the need and the vision of making disciples of kids to our church. However, if your focus is solely on “filling the spot” rather than casting the vision of making disciples of children, you will have missed an incredible opportunity to share the vision of your kids ministry.  I start with my current leadership base and help them see how a need impacts their area and our kids ministry as a whole. This strategy often helps multiply the vision as leaders advocate the need to families I may have not had a chance to develop relationships with myself. I then target individuals with whom I can share the vision and the strategy of our kids ministry. I also try to cast the vision of making disciples of kids from a broader base through mediums like social media, emails, and even the occasional story from the pulpit. How you communicate and how often you communicate the big picture will have an impact in how your volunteers see themselves as part of “Big Picture” of child discipleship in your ministry.

  1. Share the Recruitment.

Something you need to learn early as a leader in Kid’s Ministry is ABC – always be ‘cruiting. Just this week I recruited a new couple and lost another couple – the same day! The revolving door of Kids Ministry is real. Kids Ministry leaders are often the least accessible people in the church building during services. If you are like me, you are buzzing about from ministry area to ministry area before, during, and after service times facilitating ministry. The opportunity to be face to face with potential volunteers is difficult most Sundays. So, what can be done? When you have problems recruiting volunteers, it functions as the smoke that should signal that there is a fire somewhere in your church ministry as a whole. First, cast the vision of the importance of child discipleship with your staff, teammates, and senior Pastor. Second, assemble your current volunteers to be advocates for kids ministry. You will not find better advocates for the importance and life changing ministry of kids ministry than those who are in the trenches of weekly kids ministry. By sharing the pressure of recruitment, you broaden the base of your ministry and help your church be “Big Picture” focused.

  1. Coach your leaders.

I played team sports in high school and learned that our team would only be as good as we were coached. As a player, I needed expert advice and a team-wide vision of how to work together with our team from my coach or I would quickly get lost in the tasks of my position of a defender. You are your volunteer’s team “coach”, and it falls to you to help them see the big picture beyond the first days/weeks of their ministry. Help your team by scheduling a consistent time of honest feedback. This will help your leaders keep their focus on the big picture. For some, the idea of feedback might sound familiar, “I’m already doing that!” Is your feedback about the task or the mission? Feedback that is focused on making the tasks of ministry better might help in the short run but will ultimately lead your volunteers to focus on the tasks at hand, rather than the “Big Picture” of making disciples of kids.