3 Things I Wish I Would Have Known When I Started Out in Children’s Ministry

When you started out in children’s ministry, it probably seemed relatively straightforward, right? You were signing up to do ministry to children. You’d tell Bible stories, play games, and generally keep the kids safe while they were under your care. How hard could it be?

That’s what I thought, anyways.

You may have been less naïve than I was. But, nonetheless, here are three things I wish I’d known when I started in children’s ministry.

1. You’re Really in Family Ministry

Yes, you’re there to lead and teach and serve children. But the truth is that you only get an hour with them every week – at most. Their parents get exponentially more time with their children than you do.

You need to be a champion for families. You need to equip parents to have spiritual conversations with their children throughout the week (even the most solid Christian parents are trying to figure out how to disciple their children well – and they need your support).

Do everything you can to set parents up for success in discipling their children. Ask what they need. Ask how you can better serve them. Then, make that a priority. Spend an hour less on stage design in favor of investing in equipping families.

2. You Have to Recruit

I’m not going to lie. Recruiting was the hardest part of my role in children’s ministry. I just hate asking people to do, well, anything. I know people have busy lives, I don’t want to put them out, yada, yada, yada.

Here’s the thing.

I believe in the power of children’s ministry. I believe that God moves and changes little hearts and little lives. I believe that to my core. So, how could I not invite others to be a part of that? It’s amazing! I would be doing a disservice by not offering them the opportunity to experience that!

You have to recruit volunteers. Strip off the awkwardness. Strip off the guilt. If you believe in what you’re doing then boldly call others to be involved.

I have a buddy that doesn’t even ask people if they want to serve. He tells them he’s signing them up to serve three weekends in children’s ministry and if at the end of three weeks they absolutely hate it he’ll sign them up for three weeks in another ministry. Nine times out of ten they show up. I’d say about half find out they love children’s ministry and stay – the other half move on to another ministry role.

I’m not saying you have to employ that tactic – but I’ve seen it be effective. I’ve seen people step in children’s ministry – and love it – when they never would have done so without a push.

Recruit without apology. If you believe in what you’re doing, invite others to join.


3. You Have to Be a Leader

I never thought of myself as a leader. In fact, I didn’t particularly want to be a leader. But I quickly discovered that not only did I need to recruit volunteers – I needed to lead them. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the details that go into executing a weekend service. It’s urgent and obviously important.

Leadership, however, is often not urgent – but it’s vitally important. Your volunteers need you to cast vision for the ministry, provide them with coaching and feedback, and offer your support both inside and outside of the ministry. One of the ways we do this in the GO! lessons is to include a weekly devotional for your leaders as well as small group and large group “Skill Builder” articles. This gives you a tool to continually train your volunteers in less than 2 minutes and helps them to succeed at the most important job ever—leading kids to Christ! See a sample here.

Also, I’d recommend reading at least one leadership book every quarter. Learn from the experts and implement their advice. Your team will thank you and your ministry will be better for it.


There you have it – three things I wish I’d known when I started out in children’s ministry. We’d love to hear what you wish you’d known earlier on (bonus if you have any funny stories that resulted from rookie mistakes).