“It is not good for man to be alone.” These words spoken by God to Adam when He created Eve have been used in countless wedding ceremonies (and even as hokey pickup lines by desperate College males) for years. God knew as human beings we need companionship and friendship. We were created to live and work with others…as a team.
Sadly, in ministry we find individuals who have not quite grasped the team concept. They are following their passion to reach souls for Christ, but they haven’t brought anyone else along for the journey. I have discovered this is true very often in Children’s Ministry specifically.
When Jesus began his earthly ministry, He didn’t venture out on his own. He assembled a team of twelve men to be involved in ministry with Him. When Jesus said, “Go into all the world…” during the great commission, He wasn’t just speaking to 500 random individuals. He was speaking to a ministry team.
Jesus had a team (Mark 3:14), Paul had a team (Acts 20:4), King Saul had a team (1 Samuel 10:26), and Nehemiah had a team (Nehemiah 2:17,18). Each of us should strive to do the work of the ministry with a remarkable team of believers working alongside us to accomplish the goal with excellence.
I have made a decision that I never want to do ministry alone. When I make a home visit, I bring someone along. When I am speaking at a conference, I bring someone along. When I am visiting a child in the hospital, I bring someone along. Every chance I get I want to add to the ministry team God has called me to lead.
Children are amazing. The opportunity to minister to children is one of the highest honors and pleasures one can experience. It’s also one of the most challenging. So, why would anyone want to take the “solo route” and try to be a Lone Ranger in Children’s Ministry? It’s ludicrous.
I hear you sitting there saying, “Ok, Brian, you’ve convinced me! Now what?” If you have made the choice to do ministry as a team, then you need to make sure you choose the right kind of people to be your team members. It’s not about just “getting a warm body to sit in this classroom with these kids.” You want your team to be remarkable. You want a bunch of F.A.T. C.A.T.S.!
F – Faithful
When I think of faithful, I think of Donnie Miller. Donnie has been on our Children’s Ministry team for the last eight years. He serves as our security director, is faithful to his area of ministry.
If he says he will be there at 5:00, he’s there at 4:55. He travels a lot for his job, but Donnie is always faithful to e-mail me his schedule to let me know when he will and will not be able to make it. Donnie understands the importance of his ministry position and has a track record of faithfulness that speaks volumes of the character he has developed in his life.
I thank God for people like Donnie. I want our entire ministry team to mirror Donnie’s faithfulness. When you assemble your ministry team, look for those who are faithful.
"'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.'”
– Matthew 25:19
A – Available
As I mentioned, you don’t just want to find any warm body to serve in Children’s Ministry. Being available is not about “not having anything else to do.” “Available” is an attitude that says, “I am willing to serve in whatever capacity will advance the Kingdom of God.”
When I think of available, I think of Jason Fleming. Jason is a professional in the medical field. His schedule is crazy and he works a nonsensical amount of hours. But, Jason is always willing to serve in whatever capacity I ask. He has served as the Sunday School Director, Kids Choir Director, Nursery Worker, substitute teacher, and much, much more.
When assembling your team, recruit people like Jason; people who are available to serve wherever needed because they have a passion to reach kids, not people with the “I don’t do windows” mentality.
T – Teachable
I’ve been in Children’s Ministry for nearly twenty years, and I STILL have so much to learn. A teachable spirit is something a person must possess if they are going to be effective in ministry. The more you learn, the more you find out just how much there is you still don’t know.
One of the most teachable members of our team is Fred Dickson. Fred has been the director of our Junior Bible Quiz team for 31 years. He is the head of the tech department at a national insurance company and has tremendous executive and ministry experience. If anyone has a reason to sit back and put it in park and no longer grow, it’s Fred.
Fred is continuously asking me for advice and feedback in the plans and vision for his area of ministry. He understands (as we all should) that a ministry team will only grow to the point that its leader is willing to grow. No matter how much we may know, there is so much more to learn if we want our ministry to flourish.
C – Committed
In society today, commitment is a value that seems to be waning in importance. Whether it is commitment to a career, a marriage, or church, finding an everyday American that is wholeheartedly committed to something is difficult.
Being committed means a person will “stick with it” no matter how difficult the conditions become. On our team, that’s Katheryn Whitener. Katheryn is one of the most talented teachers I have ever seen. The kids love her. As a result, her class grows…sometimes too quickly.
Recently she had twice the amount of students that other classes had. Her supplies were low and her energy was drained. But, Katheryn presses on through thick and thin. With a smile on her face, she serves the kids week in and week out; committed to her position as a teacher.
A - Accountable
Accountability is something we often want from others, but rarely want to give to others. In a ministry team, accountability is a key factor for things to run smoothly. When you are building your ministry team, don’t look for those who refuse to submit themselves to authority. Look for those who are willing to be accountable to you as their spiritual leader.
George Weaver has been on the Children’s Ministry team in our church since before I arrived eleven years ago. He is now our Royal Rangers Senior Commander. When other Children’s Pastors groan and cringe when talking about their Senior Commander – I beam when I talk about George.
George has learned that accountability should be offered, not demanded. He consistently sends me e-mails, text messages, or phone calls giving me information about his area of ministry. When he is not able to make it, he doesn’t wait for me to come ask, “Where were you?” (that’s demanded accountability). Instead, he voluntarily informs me far in advance when he will be gone (that’s offered accountability).
When George makes a mistake, he owns up to it. I remember several years ago when, in the heat of the moment, he handled a situation in the wrong way. When he realized it, he didn’t try to make excuses for what he did or argue that his way was right. Instead, he called and explained what he had done wrong and asked for advice on how to make it right. He is the kind of accountable person that makes serving on a ministry team so rewarding.
T – Transparent
Too often we try to hide our real self and put on a front for others. We don’t want to admit our faults, our weaknesses, or our failures. On a ministry team, this works against the goal of “working together.”
When you can’t share your feelings, fears, or failures with someone, there’s no real trust there. Without trust, every team will falter. Oftentimes, we project a false version of ourselves for others to see. Rather than be genuine and authentic we are pretentious and fake. Rather than be transparent, we find ourselves putting up walls between ourselves and our fellow team members.
Josh Clinton is a typical twenty one year old. He attends College, hangs out with friends, and enjoys life. There is one thing about Josh that is anything but typical. He is one of the most transparent young men I have ever met. To know Josh is to know his heart, his passions, his strengths, and his weaknesses. He doesn’t try to be something he isn’t. He allows his God-given abilities and weaknesses to be seen by every member of our Children’s Ministry team.
Transparency is a quality that each member of your ministry team should possess. Really, transparency is about integrity and is powerful in bonding relationships on a team. It builds trust and breaks down walls. Ephesians 4:15 says, “Let our lives lovingly express the truth in all things--speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly.” That’s being transparent.
S – Serving
Dwight L. Moody once said, “The measure of a man is not how many servants he has, but how many men he serves.” One of the greatest traits of anyone in ministry is having a heart for serving others.
What is ministry all about? It’s about serving others. As we ministry to children, there are many times when we are going to be required to do things that are out of our comfort zone (crazy characters, pies-in-the-face, and lock-ins just to name a few). We must seek to display a heart of service that says, “Whatever I have to do to reach these kids, I will do it!”
The personification of a servant’s heart on our ministry team is Victor Rodriguez. Victor is a third degree black belt who works for the police department. If there’s anyone who could easily force others to serve HIM, it’s Victor. But, Victor displays a serving heart weekly to the children in our church. It’s not uncommon to walk into the room to find Victor sitting on the floor talking to a child or running around the room with two or three boys hanging on his back. Victor serves kids.
Victor also serves his leaders. Countless times I have received phone calls and e-mails from him asking what he can do to serve me. He wants to do what he can to make my job easier. He understands that Jesus said, “Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else (Mark 9:35).”
There are so many children to reach and so little time to reach them. We need to partner with those who are faithful, available, teachable, committed, accountable, transparent, and serving in order to accomplish this Great Commission. It’s time to get some F.A.T. C.A.T.S. on your Children’s Ministry team!