Sharing the Load

I am reading through the One Year Bible this year and am particularly looking at what the Word says regarding children and children’s ministry.

Recently the passage included Exodus 18:17 – 23 – Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

As I looked at this passage I see the benefit of establishing a leadership structure for our children’s ministry.

When I first arrived at my current church, we had very few regular team members. I found myself being the Early Childhood pastor, the preschool worship leader, the Bible storyteller, and a small group leader in one of the preschool rooms. I made copies of the curriculum and purchased and sorted all the needed supplies.  I was doing all this as a part-time staff person.

As we started growing, I soon realized that I had to share the load. I had one assistant who took over the curriculum editing, copying, and supply gathering. As we continued to grow and open new campuses, I quickly realized there was no way I could continue to do all that I did. It was necessary to develop new leaders for all the various preschool areas.

Very quickly, I found it necessary to develop a leadership structure that would allow room for leader development and easy on-ramps for new volunteers. I also added a new position of a trainer that solely trains all new volunteers – not only on the nuts and bolts of the position, but most importantly focuses on the philosophy of our ministry and the WHY we do what we do.

Each campus is led by a paid Coordinator (5 hours per week). The Coordinator is my representative at the campus and is responsible for leading both Nursery and Preschool. The Nursery and Preschool areas each have a Coach who keeps up with the schedule and communicates with the volunteers weekly. The Coach sends a weekly e-mail with the curriculum and encouraging words.

Each campus also has a Captain who oversees one hour of ministry in each area. The Captain isn’t assigned to a particular room, but is available to jump in wherever needed. For example, if a room has more children than usual, or children are needing a little more TLC, or a volunteer is unable to serve for some reason, the Captain will step in to help. Each room on every campus is also staffed with leaders who are consistent in that room.

Coordinators and Coaches are available to handle behavior issues, separation anxiety issues, connect with parents, encourage volunteers, and offer support wherever needed. These leaders are high capacity and able to jump in to any role.

The saying, “Many hands make light work,” is true in ministry. What a blessing to be able to share ministry with so many incredible leaders. “Do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” Exodus 18:23.

What type of leadership structure do you have at your church?

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