Dear Pastor...Here's How to Keep Your Children's Ministry Director Long Term

Dear Pastor, how would you like to see your children's ministry director/pastor go the distance with you?

How would you like to stop the pattern of having to find a new children's ministry director every 2 to 3 years?

How would you like to see your children's ministry director in a healthy place, where he or she wants to serve with you long term?

If you look at the websites of church staffing organizations, you will see dozens of vacant children's ministry director positions.  There are always churches looking for their next children's ministry director.  And one big reason there are so many openings is due to poor leadership by the Pastor or whomever the children's ministry person reports to.

Let's take a look at some of the reasons why cm directors leave and what churches/pastors can do to turn that around and start keeping their cm leaders for more than 2 to 3 years.

Give your children's ministry director a seat at the leadership table.  We know that a huge percentage of churches that grow, do so because they have a dynamic children's ministry.  If that's the case, then the person leading that ministry should be included at the leadership table.  Children's ministry is such an important ministry for the future of your church.  Invite the children's ministry director into the larger church conversations and planning.

Show him/her that you care about his/her personal life Get to know his/her family.  Find out what their hobbies are.  Find out when his or her birthday is.  When his or her anniversary date is.

When your children's ministry director knows that you care about him/her and his/her family, they will follow you.  Your children's ministry director wants to know that you care not just about what he/she can do for the ministry, but that you care about him/her as a person.

One of the worst "ministry bosses" I've had in ministry, didn't take the time to find out about me.  He didn't know the names of my children, what my hobbies were and never asked how he could pray for me.  Our one-on-one meetings never started with any type of small talk.  It was straight to the "agenda" for the day.   

On the flip side, one of the best "ministry bosses" I've ever had always took the first 10 minutes of our meetings to ask how my family was doing, how I was doing and how he could pray for me.

Pastor, your children's ministry director wants to know that you care more about him/her as a person than about what he/she can do for the ministry.

Don't micromanage him/her.  There is a church in southern California that is always looking for a children's director.  Why?  They can't keep anyone for more than a year or two.  Two of my personal friends have been the children's ministry director at this church.  They only lasted about two years.

Why?  Because the Pastor is a micromanager.  Even to the point where he decides what color of paper will be used for the take home paper.  I'm not kidding.  This really happens.  No wonder he has a constant turnover in his children's ministry leadership team.

As the Pastor, if you want to keep your children's director, give him/her the big picture, big vision you want to see happen in children's ministry and then let him/her figure out how to get there.  Better yet, invite him/her to help you mold and create the ministry goals, plans and hopeful outcomes.

Give him/her a clear vision of what the wins are for his/her role.  Show him/her what success will look like.  This will encourage him/her and give him/her something to work toward.  Many times when I am consulting with a children's ministry leader and ask him/her what their pastor's expectations are for them, they have no idea.  Don't be that Pastor.

Pay him/her adequately.  If the children's ministry director is one of the most valuable roles on a church staff, then pay him or her accordingly.

Here's the bottom line.  You don't want your children's ministry director to constantly be worrying about how he/she is going to survive financially.  When this is the case, it distracts a lot of the person's focus to finances and can interfere with their ministry.

What should you do?  I believe you should pay the director in the pay range of the average family in your church.  If the average family in your church makes $60k a year, then that's what you should pay your cm director.

Just remember this simple rule - Pay your cm staff adequately, but not extravagantly.  By adequately, I mean they can pay their bills each month without worrying about how they are going to make it financially.

Say "thank you" often.  Let him/her know how much they mean to you and to the church family.  Send them a handwritten note.  Brag on him/her in front of the church.  Mention some of the great things that are happening in the children's ministry.  Send him/her a gift card to a nice resturuant. Arrange a night to take care of his/her children and send them to a movie together.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Can't hear that enough.

Support the children's ministry financially.  Make it a big budget item.  Children are the greatest mission field in the world, so children's ministry should be one of your biggest budget lines.  If you want to reach the next generation, then you've got to make a big investment in children's ministry.

God will bless your church if you do this.  I know...children usually only bring quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies for the offering plate.  But they also bring the supernatural blessings of God.  Children were an important part of Jesus' ministry.  And He said, "When you welcome a child, you are welcoming Me."

You could reach a lot more people if you stopped buying choir robes and instead spent the money on children's playground equipment, toys for classrooms, updated theming and better training for your children's ministry volunteers.

Make children's ministry a top priority of the church.  This means the best facility on your church campus is the children's ministry area.  Parents walk in and immediately think, "Wow!  This church really loves kids and families."

Children's ministry programming is a top priority.  Children's ministry personnel is a top priority.  Children's ministry is heavily promoted.

Your goal should be to make your church the place for kids and families in your community.

Give your children's ministry director time off on a regular basis.  Make sure they have a day off.  Make sure they have adequate vacation time.  Surprise them occasionally with a date night where their kids are taken care off and they go on a date.

One of the best pastors I ever served with lived out this truth in an amazing way.  For every 5 years you were on his team, you were sent on a trip with all expenses paid.  He sent my wife and I to NYC for a week where we enjoyed Broadway shows, Yankee baseball, museums, etc. He even gave us spending money on top of all of that. 

Send him / her to conferences and other opportunities to grow as a leader.  Make it at least one conference each year and preferably two.  This investment into your children's ministry director, will make them a better leader for your church and make your ministry better.

Do these things and you will attract children's ministry directors that will stay with you and help you grow your children's ministry and church as a whole.

It's one of the best investments you can make as a church.

Your turn.  What are some things Pastors can do to keep their children's ministry leaders long term?  Share your ideas and insight in the comment section below.