En·gage: occupy, attract, or involve (someone’s interest or attention)
Ever had that moment when you feel like you’re herding cats? In this article by Greg Baird, discover six keys that will help you engage, impact and create life change.
Leading in children’s ministry involves many things. Aligning vision. Growing ourselves. Recruiting leaders. Equipping our team. Managing programs. Ensuring safety in all environments. And we could list a hundred other things.
Each of these alone will contribute greatly to growth in your ministry. Combine them and the impact is exponential. And notice that to this point we haven’t even really talked about anything interacting with kids! This is why I always tell young or new children’s ministry leaders that successfully leading in children’s ministry is about 85% adult focused. I have to chuckle when I tell someone what I do and they respond with something like “Oh, how fun! I would love a job where you get to be with kids all the time!” It’s hard to explain that, while it’s about the kids, the work is not primarily with the kids.
But we have to do the work with the kids with excellence also. That means engaging them for life change. Our program must be excellent. It must be relevant. It must be engaging.
Here is a framework I use to evaluate and teach engagement of children: E.N.G.A.G.E.
Equip your team to build relationships. Remember, ministry happens best through relationships. There should be a web of strong relational connections between staff, leaders, parents and children.
Never underestimate the power of environment. Before a word is said to a child, a step toward engagement is made, or a step away. This is from the environment they enter. Evaluate your environment according to:
- Atmosphere – is it lively? musical? inviting?
- Appearance – is it bright and attractive? age appropriate? intriguing?
- Appropriateness – is it safe? well-staffed? equipped with furniture & equipment right & safe for that age?
Get to know the kids in your ministry. You and your team should understand:
- Age level characteristics
- Personality types
- Learning styles
- Relevant home life information
Always involve parents. Spiritual formation is, ultimately, the responsibility of the parent. Why on earth would we not find ways to connect virtually everything we do with them?
Go the extra mile. Interaction with kids outside the church setting will do wonders for engaging them inside the church setting. Do you have systems in place for simple engagement such as birthday cards, “we missed you” contacts, and other communication? Do you facilitate outings and activities outside of service time? Do you and your leaders regularly visit the kids’ sporting events, plays and other activities?
Exude enthusiasm. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm”, and he was so right! Enthusiasm can make up for a multitude of deficiencies while you build your ministry. Model it and teach your team to embrace it!
Engaging children is at the heart of making an impact. If we don’t engage effectively, nothing else will really matter.
Article used with permission. Greg Baird.