Archives For children’s ministry

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It’s 9:00 pm Saturday night and Bill is frantically searching his email for the lesson that was emailed to him earlier in the week. When he finally finds it and prints it off, it’s 10:00 pm. He glances at it (not really to read it but just to make sure it all printed), and then shoves it in his Bible so he’ll have it when he leads his small group on Sunday morning.

Is this how your volunteers prepare to lead a small group? In the busyness of your life and theirs, how can you help them prepare to lead their small group well?

To help our small group leaders, I included a page in our training manual called “How to Prepare for Sunday Morning in 15 Minutes or Less.” The idea was to give them a practical way to be well prepared for Sunday by spending a little bit of time with the lesson each day. Here is what we included:

I adapted this schedule from an example found in Wholly Kids from Lifeway:Kids. This is an amazing resource on how kids learn, how to design engaging environments, and how to lead volunteers.

 HOW TO PREPARE FOR SUNDAY MORNING (in 15 minutes or less!)

Monday

  • Read the Fifty6 Team Email and print a copy of this week’s lesson
  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible

Time: 5 minutes

Tuesday

  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible
  • Read the Large Group teaching time

Time: 10-15 minutes

Wednesday

  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible
  • Read the Small Group portion of the lesson—Think, Discuss, & React

Time: 15 minutes

Thursday

  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible
  • Write down your responses/answers to the Small Group discussion questions

Time: 15 minutes

Friday

  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible
  • Pray for the students in your group by name

Time: 10 minutes

Saturday

  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible
  • Write down some fun or engaging questions to use during Huddle Time
  • Review the lesson and rest!

Time: 10 minutes

books that helped in ministry

7 Practices of Effective Ministry

Strategy. I was handed this book when I was just a part-time intern during college, but I have kept at least two copies in my office ever since. I’m always passing 7 Practices of Effective Ministry on to other ministry leaders! This book is all about strategy—why we do what we do. It has helped me to be intentional in ministry and keep focused on the end goal.

Holy Discontent

Passion. I don’t remember where I picked up this book, but I’ll never forget reading it. Holy Discontent gives some great examples of how God ignites a passion in our hearts that will not go away. It is that issue or cause that keeps you awake at night and calls you into the fight. Hybels labels it our “holy discontent.” The insights of this book have helped me discern God’s call on my life and challenged me to pursue that passion with everything.

Next Generation Leader/Making Vision Stick

Leadership. These two books are made to be read together. Next Generation Leader gives a great blueprint for strong leadership. The tips given in this book are designed to develop a long-lasting leader. Reading this book on leadership with Making Vision Stick really has helped me to survive in ministry and navigate through tough changes.

Let the Nations Be Glad

Perspective. I love John Piper and his zeal for Christ. Let the Nations Be Glad provides a great perspective for any Christian, but especially those in vocational ministry. The book can be summed up from Piper’s quote of the Westminster Confession of Faith: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Even when ministry gets hard and distracting, it is great to know and understand that God created me to glorify and enjoy Him!

man-thinking-draft
I’m playing in 2 Fantasy Football leagues this year. The first league is with a group of pastors at our church, and the second league is with my family.

I felt honored to be invited into the pastor’s league, so I took the draft really seriously. I read all the expert opinions on players, I printed off team depth charts, and I even paid $4.99 for an iPad app that’s only purpose was to help me pick the right players!

After the 3-hour draft, I felt really good about my team and our chances of winning. I felt like all my work had paid off.

The league with my family was much less intense. I joined the league, made up a team name, and then waited for the computer to “auto-pick” my players at 4:00 am. When I got up this morning, I had an email telling me which players I had “picked.”

The two teams were almost identical!

With the exception of 2 players—2 out of 15—the teams were the same. I spent hours trying to make sure that I picked the right players in the first draft, and the second draft auto-picked the same players while I was asleep!

I usually live by the motto, “If you want it done right, do it yourself!” I’m always afraid that someone will screw up if I let them take over, so I end up doing the job myself. I realize that I spend a lot of my time “spinning my wheels” in areas that I should equip others to lead. These draft results reminded me that delegation is important, especially in ministry.

Here are some questions that I’m asking myself to help me delegate more:

1. What am I currently doing that only I can/should be doing?
2. What am I doing that someone else could do?
3. Who are the people around me that have talents in the areas I need to delegate?
4. How can I equip those individuals to “own” that area?
4. How can I support and encourage those that are taking responsibility of these areas?


Have you ever wondered what makes a great leader “great”? It’s the time of year when we are doing interviews and placing volunteers for the new ministry year. As we go through this process, I have been reminded of this quote:

The people in and around your ministry will define your ministry.

Preteens, parents, and other potential volunteers will make judgments about your ministry based on what they see, and what they predominately see are the volunteers that you place in ministry.

Does that make you nervous to think about? It makes me nervous! It also makes the process of enlisting leaders even more important. Here are some qualities that we look for in our recruitment and interview process:

1. Passionate faith
Our expectation is that a volunteer will encourage preteens to grow in their faith. To do so, it is imperative that a volunteer displays a passionate faith. A passionate faith is like a virus that spreads throughout the group and infects every member.

2. Value people and relationships
A volunteer called to build relationships with preteens needs to value relationships. Even more so, we want leaders that can develop relationships with other leaders and parents. These relationships are tremendously helpful to the entire ministry.

3. Teachable
Even the 20-year ministry veteran has room for growth, so leaders need to be teachable. In addition to being teachable, we look for leaders who are “teachers.” Every experience in ministry is an opportunity to learn and share with other leaders to help them grow. Leaders who are teachable and teachers are worth their weight in gold!

4. Balance
The commitment to ministry is not always convenient. Someone who is over-committed in many areas of life will never achieve their full potential in ministry. When enlisting leaders, look for individuals who show balance in their life. They will most likely be able to manage the commitment of ministry and be successful in it.

5. Experience
We would love for every volunteer to have 10-20 years of experience in preteen ministry, but that’s not likely and that’s not really what we mean by experience. Great leaders have experience that is life-based. They have spent time under a faithful mentor, or they have experienced God working in their life in a mighty way. This type of experience is a well to draw from when leading a group of preteens.

What qualities do you look for in potential volunteers?