Why High Capacity Children’s Pastors Are So Hard To Find
By: Danny Watterson June 7, 2014
Stop for a minute and humor me by answering this question...what’s the fastest way to wreck your church?
I can think of a ton of ways to do it: bad message content, miserable music, little to no connection opportunities, or a scandal.
But one of the primary characteristics we see in churches that are not thriving is a stagnant or failing children's ministry. If the kids dislike going to church, parents will simply not put up with the kicking and screaming.
On the other hand, one of the fastest ways to ensure families become a part of your church is to develop a world-class Children's Ministry.
At Vanderbloemen Search Group, we’re being called now more than ever to help churches find their next Children’s Pastor. Our clients come to us because they are struggling to find the right fit with the right qualifications to lead their Children’s Ministry.
The reason why is simple: there is a shortage of high-caliber, top-tier pastors that are called to influence children and families.
In my experience, I see three primary reasons why there is a shortage of Children’s Pastors. If we as church leaders pay attention to these reasons and are intentional about changing them, I know we’ll see a change in the mentality of Children's Ministry and see more quality candidates pursuing Children’s Ministry long-term.
1. Confused Compensation for Children's Pastors
I know what you might be thinking.... It's not about the money. But is it? A quick way to gauge the priority of where your children's ministry falls on the pecking order is to compare your pastors’ salaries. It's not a guaranteed indicator but it's a pretty good gauge of what you value the most at your church. Do your Worship Leaders, Student Pastor, Missions Pastor, and/or Small Groups Pastor all make more than your Children’s Pastor? Some would argue that compensation is based upon tenure and experience or even qualification or education, and perhaps your Children's Pastor has less training or qualifications than your other pastors. In which case I would pose the question, "Then why have you settled on a less-experienced or less-qualified person for that important role?" The reality is, you get what you pay for.
Think about the life stage of your ideal Children's Pastor candidate. Are they married? Do they have kids? Do they have a background in ministry? If those are the case, then are you paying enough to financially support the person you’ve just pictured as your perfect Children’s Pastor candidate?
If you need help in figuring out how much you should pay your Children’s Pastor based on your church size, budget, and organizational chart, contact us about our customized compensation analyses we can conduct for your church staff.
2. Lack Of Children's Ministry Volunteers & Leadership Support
One of the stories we hear over and over again from Children's Pastors is that they often feel alone and siloed from the other ministries in the church, from attention they receive from senior leadership to the amount of volunteers they have. Children's Ministry will always need more volunteers than most other ministries in the church. How are you supporting that need as a senior leader?
There’s a gap in the “training cycle” for Children’s Ministry leaders and volunteers because it’s the beginning of the volunteer recruiting cycle. The cycle goes like this: we recruit volunteers for Children’s Ministry, they fall in love with the kids, and graduate with them as volunteers into the church's junior high and high school programming. The Children’s Pastor is left constantly recruiting new and untrained volunteers to fill the gap once the leaders graduate with the kiddos into junior high programming. It's an exhausting cycle, and you should be continually helping to close the gap as a senior leader who values their Children's Pastor.
There’s also a gap in leadership development of Children’s Ministry volunteers. For too long, the mentality has been to find people who will babysit the kids on Sunday mornings. What if you changed your mentality as a church staff and created a Children’s Ministry Leadership Track where the volunteers go through a certification course where they can learn about children and family development from a professional? Or perhaps the Children’s Ministry volunteers attend a KidMin conference together like Orange? The goal here is to help cultivate their passion for children and families and to stay a Children’s Ministry volunteer long-term.
Another leadership development opportunity you may be missing is developing your teenagers and college students to be leaders in your church's ministries. Bring teenagers into serve the Children's Ministry and give them quality oversight, mentorship, and relationship. It's a win-win across the board. Begin casting vision now to impact future generations of Children's and Family Pastors. Develop a detailed training program and begin seeking out high school and college students to incorporate. You'll be more creative, more relevant, and you'll develop new "in-house" Children's Pastors to send out.
3. Undervaluing the Children's Pastor
No one would ever verbalize that their Children's Ministry is "just another ministry" of the church, but in many cases, that’s exactly what the mindset has become. Lead Pastors across the country need to re-evaluate how they view their ministry to kids and families. Do you give your Children's Pastor a budget to operate? Do you ask your Children's Pastor how your decisions as a senior leader will impact families? When was the last time your series content on parents or families included your Children's Pastor's input? After all, they're the expert on your staff about children and families, correct? The emphasis we place on this position and the voice that we give them is a clear indication of the value level at which we hold it.
As we raise the standards of Children's Ministry, both in resources and pay scale, we place a higher priority on this position as a "game changer" for our churches. In doing that, we'll see more Children's Pastors rise to those expectations and pursue a lifetime called to Children’s Ministry.
If you liked this, then you'll also like 3 Reasons You're Struggling To Find A Children's Pastor & How To Fix Them.