4 Reasons Why Children’s Pastors Resign
I’ve been a part of and worked with many churches, and I have never met a pastor that says children’s ministry is not an important part of their church. By its nature, children's ministry is the most evangelistic ministry in most churches. Children’s pastors and volunteers work with people every week who have literally never heard about Jesus, and often there are more conversions and baptisms in children's ministry than in any other area of the church.
These are the wins that pastors strive for and love to celebrate, so why are children’s pastors so quick to leave their positions?
If your church finds itself having trouble keeping a high quality children’s pastor on staff, here are some things to consider:
1. Little Appreciation
The truth is, children aren’t known for their courtesy. How often have you met a child that stops the pastor to say, “Thanks for investing in me today”? It doesn’t exactly happen often!
Children’s pastors aren’t hearing gratitude from the people they’re serving, and often they aren’t hearing it from the people they work with either. Think about the layout of your church: where is the kids’ space? Often, it’s tucked away somewhere so that the noise of the kids doesn’t interfere with the main service. It’s easy for staff who don’t work directly with kids to come in and out of the church and never have to go into the kids’ space. This means they may not have a solid idea of what the children's ministry looks like, let alone how the kids are being reached each week.
2. No Opportunity For Growth
It is not uncommon for a pastor in children's ministry to view their role as a “stepping stone” into some other dream ministry position. However, churches do not frequently do anything to change that mindset. A children's ministry position ends up pretty low on many churches’ org charts, and because of that, children’s pastors often feel they need to move to another position to have a voice in their church.
There are many incredible children's ministry conferences offered at churches around the country each year. You could send your children’s pastor to one of those, but it’s also important that they are being provided opportunities for development within the church itself, like being brought into decision-making conversations for church-wide events. Children’s pastors have influence with a large percentage of the church. They interact with kids, parents, and volunteers. That is a valuable perspective. When he/she is able to share that perspective, the whole staff receives indispensable input, and the children’s pastor feels heard and valued.
Burnout is a term that gets tossed around a lot in ministry, but it's important to know it doesn’t just apply to senior leaders. It happens all the time, and it happens in children's ministry frequently. Serving children is valuable work, but it can be exhausting. Combine that with the reasons above, and it is not hard to imagine why a children’s pastor would get burned out.
One way to prevent this is to make sure your children’s pastor is fresh with resources and inspiration. Offering a new perspective from someone outside of the day-to-day ministry could be beneficial for a struggling children’s pastor. Similarly, consider whether your church wants to offer a time of sabbatical (even if short) to this person on staff. While it is a significant money and time investment to consider, the return made to the ministry and your church will be well worth it.
4. Not Getting Paid Enough
It’s hard to find a great children’s pastor, so when one comes along, it’s a shame to lose him or her over a compensation issue.
If a church is in agreement that children’s pastors are appreciated and a valuable part of the team, the salary should reflect that.
At Vanderbloemen, we are frequently asked to analyze compensation levels for children's ministry positions because it is challenging to know what reasonable pay is. It is a good idea to take some time- maybe once a year- to evaluate your pay structure to check if what your team is getting paid is a fair wage for their positions. The more competitive you are with your pay, the more likely you are to attract high-caliber children’s pastors.
Children's ministry is not for the faint of heart, and neither is trying to find a good children’s pastor. However, having a kids pastor on your staff that is a strong leader is invaluable to your ministry.
How is your church supporting the development and longevity of your children’s pastor?