Three Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started

Three things that make a big difference

by Jim Wideman/ May 21, 2015

Back in 1977, when my pastor asked me to cover children’s church for one Sunday, I had no idea that thirty-eight years later I’d be writing this blog post. I also had no idea what God had in store for me. I’m thankful for all the wonderful doors, like this one, that He opened. I am also thankful for the early years I had serving kids and families at Southside Assembly in Jackson, Mississippi. I’m still in contact with many of those kids. It’s also hard to believe that those first twelve-year-olds are turning fifty-one on their next birthday. (Thanks Facebook for making me feel old.)

Three Things I’ve Learned

1. I must grow in my leadership skills. A huge mistake I made in the early years was focusing on the kids who currently made up my ministry and forgetting to build a healthy ministry. In those early years I wish I had known to grow my leadership skills as well as my ministry. I understood that it was my job to help make healthy disciples. I understood the importance of training kids now for a lifetime of service in a local church. But I didn’t realize that a healthy leader must raise their own abilities to communicate and lead. It was years before I studied leadership and worked on growing my abilities. I remember when I wrote my first book, Children’s Ministry Leadership: The You-Can-Do-It Guide back in 2003, many children’s pastors told me, “I wish I could have learned this from you twenty-five years ago.” I always told them the same thing—I also wished I had known this stuff twenty-five years ago! The truth is I had to choose to add leadership to my arsenal of puppets, costumes, and magic tricks.

2. I must partner with parents. The second thing I wish I had known was the importance of partnering with parents. You see, every teacher knows a child does better in school with help from their parents. This is also true with spiritual things. If I wanted to make healthy disciples I needed to include parents. I wish I had known then what I know now: “What happens at home is more important than what happens at church.”

3. I must build a healthy ministry team. The third thing I wish I had known is that you have to build a team, not only to build a healthy ministry, but to make healthy disciples. In those early years, I was a one-man show. I now know that kids need other adults in their lives that will tell them the same thing their parents are saying at home. Besides that, you need a team to help you follow-up and care for kids. You can’t do it alone. Building a team calls for duplication as well as delegation. Healthy discipleship is a product of a healthy ministry built by a healthy team led by a healthy leader.

The Reward

As you work on your leadership skills, partner with parents, and build a healthy team, your kids’ ministry will thrive and you will relate better to and win the respect and trust of the leadership above you. That’s why I have dedicated the rest of my life to helping younger leaders grow in these three areas. Every kidmin leader needs to know the difference leadership skills, partnering with parents, and building a healthy team makes. I wish I had known and I want to help others know these too. That’s why I created, theClub, Infuse, and my resources.

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