When beginning a new cm position – how to evaluate current programs
“I am directing a CM that hasn’t had a CM director before me. How do I evaluate the current CM programs, and focus on ‘quality’ not ‘quantity’?”
It is easy to slip into the destructive mindset of having to offer “something for everybody” throughout the week. This mindset may come from the church leadership or from a misplaced view of the responsibility of the CM. The CM is NOT responsible to develop spirituality of the children of the church or community! That responsibility is set clearly on the shoulders of the parents in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. The CM exists to support what the parents are doing in the home. The CM also serves as an alternative to sitting in the adult worship service for the children. (This may not be necessary in the churches focused on the whole family, and whose pastor presents sermons and experiences with the whole family in mind.)
“And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” Mark 6:31
Leading the children’s ministry (CM) can be both physically and emotionally exhausting! It may seem that whatever you do, it is never enough. The work is never really done! It is this dangerous cycle of “supply and demand” that sweeps many CM leaders into “burn out.” Jesus knew this physical and emotional risk when He encouraged His disciples to “come away” with Him to a “desolate” or quiet place to rest.
We know that God told us to set aside one day of the week to rest. Unfortunately, for CM leaders and team members, that one day of rest may become the busiest day of the week! This unhealthy cycle of endless work and no rest is one of the main reasons to focus on “quality” CM programs, instead of an unrealistic “quantity” of them!
Remember that today’s families are also busy and may also struggle with no rest. Today’s parents may struggle with “over programming” their children’s lives. The desire to be “good parents” may push them to have their children enrolled in sports, music lessons, dance, karate, etc. Weekly CM programs may be just another program that takes time away from the family. Of course, parents always have the choice to involve their children in midweek programs and having a midweek CM program may be just what a family needs. \
As the CM leader, you must ask God to help you create a balanced set of CM programs during the week. Since you are building a new CM structure, you can decide how many programs the CM offers. This is where the CM vision can help you! If there isn’t a CM vision statement, ask God to help you create one. (Visit the “Creating The CM Vision” page of this website for help.)
Once you understand the CM vision, you can better evaluate the current CM programs using the “filter” of the CM vision. Ask God to help you determine if the current programs satisfy the CM vision. A CM program can serve as an alternative to attending the adult service (on Sundays and during the midweek service), as an outreach to non-church families, as a specific experience for the children, or simply a fun event during which the CM team builds relationships with the children and parents. All of those purposes are good and they can further the CM vision.
If you find that all of the current CM programs can be justified through the CM vision “filter,” then you may have to ask yourself, “Is this program necessary?” or “Can we do a good job in fulfilling the ‘Great Commission’ and our CM vision without this program?”
Unless your CM team is so large that you don’t use the same CM team member twice in the week, you may discover that your CM team is being asked to serve in multiple CM programs during the week. This is a dangerous expectation!
If you build your CM programs on “over-used” or tired people, you will soon exhaust them! They will quit! When your CM team dwindles, your programs become even more difficult to staff because fewer people will be expected to run the same program! So, in evaluating your current CM program offerings, seriously consider who is running them.
The best way to balance your CM team’s output is to not use a CM team member for more than one program during the week. The CM team who serve in the Sunday morning program should not be expected to serve in another program during the week. You may have some team members who serve twice during the week, and they may tell you that they like it. Be very careful with letting them continue to do so! They may indeed be “okay” with serving twice during the week, but as a leader you must realize that if they get sick or decide to leave the ministry, you now have TWO “holes” to fill in the team!
Evaluating your current CM program offerings may force you to end a CM program for the sake of the vision, the health of the CM team, or for your own emotional and physical balance. If you do need to end a program, do it carefully and positively. Communicate with the CM team members and share your vision for the ministry and for their emotional and physical health. Celebrate what God has done through the ministry and invite the parents to let their children be involved in the other CM programs. For more help, click on the links below.
Visit other articles in the “Leading The Ministry” APPENDIX