Feb 21

3 Benefits of Long Haul Ministry

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This past weekend I was talking with Travis, a seventh grader I used to have in Children’s Ministry.  His mom has been an amazing leader in our ministry for years so I know him pretty well.    What I didn’t know, though, was that he’s now helping with a group of kindergarten boys. 

I asked him how he liked it. 

“I love it,” he said.  “I plan on moving up with them every grade.  By the time they’re fifth graders, I’ll be a senior in high school.  I’ll really miss them after they go to middle school.”  

Wow, I thought.  How incredible is it that a kid this young has this kind of a powerful vision for ministry?  But it’s really no surprise.  He grew up in the Children’s Ministry watching his mom build into kids year after year. 

I’m certain that this vision was both caught and taught. 

Travis and his mom both get the big picture of long haul ministry.   After leading for eight years at Southland, I can tell you that I see it too.  Some leaders come and go.   They play their part, and we’re grateful for the season they served. 

But the folks who really get traction, the true hall-of-famers, are those who have stuck with it year after year and reaped the benefits that only experience and perseverance can yield. 

So if you’re new in Children’s Ministry or have been serving awhile and questioning whether or not to continue, I want to challenge you to pray about God planting you for more than a season or two.  Imagine what could kind of impact you could have over five years or ten or twenty.

Those who lead for the long haul gain at least three huge benefits.

1.       Long haulers build history with kids.

Ministry is all about relationships, and like it or not, relationships take time.  The more time you’re in the life of a child, the more they trust you and give you an opportunity to speak into their lives.  This trust translates into influence.  You can become the biggest and best influence in the life a child outside of their family.  For kids with less than ideal spiritual role models at home, you may be the only godly influence in their lives. 

2.      Long haulers earn trust with parents.

Just as long haul leaders build more meaningful relationships with kids than short-termers, they also earn trust with parents because of their commitment to sticking with their kids. 

Last summer when our kids promoted up to their new grade, I watched several hesitant parents bring their new third graders up to our third through fifth grade ministry for the first time.  They were thrilled when they saw that some our second grade leaders had moved up with their children.  Having these leaders in place spoke volumes to the parents about how much their kids mattered to that leader.

3.      Long haulers learn from experience.

I have a friend who is a Children’s Ministry legend.  He is known and respected by Children’s Ministers across the country.  He once said to me, “It’s not that I’m that good at it.  It’s just that I’m old.  I’ve done it forever.” 

He’s being humble, but there is some truth to what he said for all of us.  We gain so much wisdom and continue to improve just by sticking to one ministry and remaining teachable.  I’ve personally grown the most from years of failing and learning from my mistakes and observing what others are doing well.

Yes, short termers can serve a valuable role during a season or two in Children’s Ministry, but selfishly, I’d rather be like Travis and stick around to reap the long-term benefits that only come from staying put.

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