Success in children’s ministry is important. Trying to ensure success in everything we do can often be a difficult challenge. Here are 2 key factors for success that I have learned to apply to my ministry. I’m not perfect in them, but am striving to become better each day.

Seize Opportunities

One of my favorite shows on TV is Shark Tank, on ABC. The gist of the show is entrepreneurs and inventors pitch ideas to a panel of investors and, if they like the ideas presented, they will give them a load of money to help them take them to the next level. The inventions presented have been ideas ranging from a truck bed air mattress, a toilet seat for cats (with a cat potty training DVD included), to a guy who will draw you a picture of a cat for $10 (www.IWantToDrawACatForYou.com). Some of the ideas on the show have made me say to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that!?” The difference between the people on the show and myself is that they had an idea, saw an opportunity, and took full advantage of it. In ministry, when we have an idea, we must be on the lookout for opportunities to put these ideas into action. Some of these opportunities may come in the form of seasons. For instance, summer can be a great time to plan a lot of high-impact children’s events because they are out of school and families are looking for fun things to do. A specific need within your community or church could also pose as a great opportunity. A community event could give your church a great outreach opportunity. There are many opportunities out there; you just have to be on the lookout for them. One thing to be careful of, when looking for these opportunities, is trying to copy someone else’s success. Books and conferences can give you great idea starters when you hear or read of other people’s successes. You must take those ideas and use them to spur your creativity, rather than using them as a cookie cutter model to begin a program or event that may not even fit into your church’s culture or context. If you think you may be ready to capitalize on a potential opportunity, here are some areas to think about: – Knowledge (Do we know how to do this?) – Momentum (How does the atmosphere of the organization feel?) – Timing (Is this the right time for this?) – Support (Do we have the support needed for this to succeed?) – Culture (Does this idea fit the people we are trying to reach?) One of the greatest failures I experienced was when I planned a parent meeting for the children’s ministry in my church. I had bought sandwich trays for the event and had developed a lot of activities for us to do during it. However, the timing was TERRIBLE. I scheduled the meeting for a day when most of the parents already had plans. Only myself and one parent showed up. Had I done the proper research and thought about the timing, I would have planned it for a different day and possibly had success instead of failure. On the other hand, one of the largest successes that I remember was when we planned a fall festival for our church. Our church had not had a fall festival for several years and we didn’t want it to be a typical fall festival (with hay bales and corn stalks). We made it messy, crazy, and fun and because the timing was perfect and it fit our culture, hundreds of people attended and the event was a great success.

Commit to Excellence

excellenceFinding these opportunities is just the first half of the journey on the road to success. If you have identified an opportunity for what you want to accomplish, you must make sure you go about it with a commitment to excellence.

Have you ever been to a really lame party or event? What made it so dull? Was it because of lack of proper planning? Perhaps it was so boring because the planner didn’t pay attention to details. Whatever you think the problem was, could it have been avoided if the planner had a commitment to excellence? “Excellence,” according to Dr. Phil Pringle (author of Top 10 Qualities of a Great Leader), “is an attitude. It’s pride in what you do so you look at your output and feel great that you have done the best you can” (74).

As ministers to children and families and messengers of the gospel, it is imperative that we settle for nothing less than our best when we are serving God. Whether you are planning a huge event for your entire community, or planning a Sunday School lesson to teach to a small class of 3-year olds, you should ALWAYS do your best and yearn for excellence in what you do.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

In his book, Dr. Pringle goes on to say, “Living as unto God means we exert ourselves to be the best, do the best, and achieve the best, simply because it’s for Him. We’re carrying His reputation in our hands” (74).

So what is it that is causing you not to succeed as much as you could? Maybe it is one of these areas: – Poor time management. – Priorities out-of-order. – Feeling of burn out. – Failing to delegate some responsibility to others. – Not trying as hard as you could. – Lack of proper planning/organization.

Reflection Questions

  • When was a time that you took full advantage of an opportunity?
  • Have you pulled the trigger on an idea when an opportunity didn’t really exist?
  • Can you think of any other reason someone may not be achieving excellence?
  • What has held you back in the past and how did you/will you overcome it?
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GJ Farmer is a husband, a dad, the founder of ChildrensMinistryBlog.com, and is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church in Somerset, Kentucky. He has completed a Bachelor’s degree in Church Ministries and a Master’s degree in Children’s Ministry. He has also been fortunate to lead and teach groups at children’s ministry conferences and to have had some of his writing published. Apart from working with kids, he enjoys reading, performing magic tricks, playing video games, and University of Kentucky basketball.

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