When Beginning A new cm leadership position – what To do first

Your Question:

“I have just been hired to direct a CM that hasn’t had a CM director before me. What do I do first?”

The Issues:

The process for beginning a new CM leadership where there hasn’t been this position in the past involves five basic steps: investigation, observation, interaction, construction, and evaluation. Since this is a new position, you will need to be very flexible and cautious. Be ready to listen and adjust your perspectives and plans frequently.  Stay connected with your immediate supervisor or senior pastor throughout the process.

Scripture Foundation:

“…And they said to me, ‘The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and disgrace, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire.’ Now when I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.…So, I came to Jerusalem and was there for three days. I got up in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my mind to do for Jerusalem… So, I went out at night …and I was inspecting the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which had been consumed by fire. …Then I said to them, ‘You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate, and its gates have been burned by fire. Come, let’s rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a disgrace.’…So they put their hands to the good work.”   Nehemiah 1:3 – 2:18

Short Answer:

Being hired to lead a CM that has never had a formal, paid leader before is an exciting challenge.  It is much like planting a new garden in soil that has been somewhat prepared.  You must remember that God is and has always been in control of the ministry.  That doesn’t mean that everything that has been done is “perfect” or “correct” though. The fact that there have been people involved in the ministry means that there have probably been poor decisions made in the past.  Nehemiah’s process in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem is an excellent model for you to follow!  Study what he did, and ask God to help you follow his example. 


Your first “job” is to investigate what has been done in the past. This investigation phase is conducted by talking with those who have been involved in the CM in the past, or presently.  Tell them that you have been hired to lead the ministry, and you need to understand what has been done in the past. Try to create a “historical timeline” of the ministry from the very beginning until now.  Ask for their opinions of how things have been done, and for suggestions about what is needed.  If they are currently serving in the ministry, thank them for their faithfulness and assure them that you will do all you can, in God’s power, to support them.  If they aren’t currently serving, invite them to return to the CM team. Assure them that you will do all you can, in God’s power, to support them if they return to the team.


The next phase is the observation phase. In this phase, you observe what is currently being done during the service.  Depending on the level of security, you may or may not need to identify yourself before you are permitted to enter the CM area.  If you aren’t stopped, or asked who you are, this is valuable information.  Find an inconspicuous place to stand or sit within view of the CM area.  Ask God to help you see, feel, and hear everything you need to understand the present condition of the ministry. As you observe, notice the “feeling tone” of the ministry as it is expressed in the faces of the parents, children, and team members.  Listen for comments that might reflect areas that need improvement.  Ask God to show you how to increase the security of the ministry.  If you have been introduced to the team by the senior pastor or an associate pastor, visit the CM rooms very briefly to observe what happens in the rooms.  Look for indicators of the team members’ “philosophy of ministry” or teaching styles.  Are the children in control, interested in the lesson, or out of control?  Does the teacher use interactive or creative teaching techniques? 


The next step in this process might be conducted during the same service that you are observing. This step is the interaction phase.  You will interact with current CM team members, parents or grandparents, church staff, and even some children.  The goal of this interaction is to understand what people think about the CM in order to build the structure that the ministry needs.  Ask questions like, “Tell me what you think about the children’s ministry,” or “How can I make the ministry even better?” or “What do you need to be better at ministering to the children?” (for CM team members).  If you get to ask children some questions, simply ask, “What do you like the most about coming to church here?” or “What don’t you like about coming to church here?”  Ask God to help you build a clear picture of what goes on in the ministry, and how to improve it.


The next step may take some time to accomplish.  It is the construction phase.  This phase can take weeks! Don’t expect yourself to “construct” aspects of the ministry right away.  Ask God to help you know which aspect of the ministry is needed first.  This is usually the ministry policies. Your policies will give a strong foundation upon which to build almost everything else. Download a sample CM policy manual and the associated sample CM forms here. During the “construction” phase you build structure in the ministry.  You create policies, procedures, and lines of communication/authority within the ministry.  You consider how to improve the current curriculum or begin searching for a new curriculum to use.  You should also build a CM team recruiting, screening, and training process. The recruiting/screening process should reflect what you and the church believe about protecting the safety of the children. The screening process must include background checks and a detailed application. The training should include some basic principles of ministering to children, supporting parents or grandparents, using the curriculum, and teaching creatively.  The training should also include what to do in emergencies such as fire, extreme weather, active shooters, dangerous visitors, angry parents, etc. You also create the CM budget.  In churches that are just beginning an official CM, the budget usually doesn’t exist.  Your job in “constructing” the ministry is to establish a CM budget that will reflect the CM vision and provide the church leadership with a financial “picture” of what God is doing through the ministry.  The budget will be small at the beginning, but it will grow over time. 


After you have designed some “construction” steps, build in one or two ways to evaluate the ministry’s progress.  This is the evaluation phase.  The purpose of this phase is to evaluate the effects of what you have been doing. You will evaluate the recruiting, screening and training of the CM team.  You will also evaluate the current curriculum, policies, and the budget.  The “evaluation” process should continue year-long and you should always be looking for ways to improve the ministry.  Depending on the current condition of the CM, you may be wise in not making any significant changes within the first 2 or 3 months of your ministry.  Be careful not to scare current volunteers off by making too many changes too soon.  For more help, click on the links below.

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