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The “Jump on my Sinking Ship” Children’s Minister

5 Things I Hate about Children’s Ministry

#1 The Irrelevant Children’s Minister

#2 The “One-Man Show” Children’s Minister

#3 The Children’s Minister that Ignores Early Childhood

#4 The “Jump on my Sinking Ship” Children’s Minister

You know this guy, right?   He’s the Children’s Pastor that is always telling everyone how terrible everything is.   He’s lamenting the lack of volunteers, the lack of parental involvement, the lack of support from senior church leadership, the small classrooms, and the overall apathy towards the next generation.   Then they’ll ask you to get involved and volunteer!   They’re telling everyone that their ship is sinking and going down like a boulder, but asking you to jump on board!   It’s a wonder that anyone ever signs up to help out.

I’m not a big fan of stage announcements for Children’s Ministry volunteers/workers/leaders (or whatever you call them at your church.)   Stage announcements just don’t work, and even if you do drag a few guilty parties into your ministry with a “Sinking Ship” announcement they will never work out long-term.   I do believe in the power of the ask, just not from a sinking ship mentality.   If you’re this CP, then let’s do some self evaluation.   If you can answer YES to any of these questions then we might have a problem:

  • Do you lament the lack of volunteers with anyone besides your spouse?
  • Do you voice worries to current volunteers about why more people don’t volunteer?
  • Have you ever stood in front of a group of people and said something to this effect?

“Somebody needs to step up and serve the kids in this church, because there just isn’t enough help currently!”

  • Do people avoid you when you walk by them in the hallway?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then it’s time for us to talk.   Go ahead and sit down for this one, because you need help.   I’ve been where you are.   In a previous life at a previous church I once let it leak that I had 150+ kids in Elementary services with myself and one other worker (AKA: The Doorman.)   Was I scared of being alone with that many kids?   YES!   Was it necessary to scare everyone else?   NO!   Over time I learned to manage the Children’s Ministry at my church like we had every position fully staffed.   I wrote job descriptions for positions I had never had people for, and started letting people join our team.   Yes, I used the phrase “letting people join.”   (BTW -If you’ve never read “Volunteers that Stick” by Jim Wideman then you should!)

Get off that sinking ship, and start casting up some sails for everyone to see.   Make your burdened ship appear lighter than it actually is, and watch people catch your vision.   There are times for your senior leadership to make appeals towards service to your congregation, but be careful not to identify yourself as the sinking ship!


Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. Tamera Kraft · December 17, 2009

    You’re right. That’s one of the worst. Stage announcements work if they’re done in the right way. Give testimonies about the great things going on in children’s ministry, have the pastor play it up, and have the children minister in some way in the service (drama, choir, etc.). Then announce we might be taking a few more volunteers on board soon, but you’ll need to qualify and be willing to make a commitment. If you believe God is calling you, you can contact me and we’ll pray about it. Then drop the subject. One of the best ways to get workers. People want to be involved in a ministry that works.
    .-= Tamera Kraft ´s last blog ..The Christmas Tree =-.

  2. Tim Biden · December 17, 2009

    Reading Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends And Influence People” wouldn’t hurt either.

  3. J.C. · December 17, 2009

    Totally agree. Just to add a little emphasis to one part. IF YOU HAVEN’T READ VOLUNTEERS THAT STICK BY JIM WIDEMAN THEN YOU SHOULD.
    .-= J.C. ´s last blog ..Kid Devotions =-.

  4. Rob · December 17, 2009

    You may be communicating “sinking ship” if your Sunday morning announcement includes the many vacant volunteer spots.

    Let’s face it, we make those kinds of announcement hoping everyone will get the hint. Trust me…they get the hint.

    You must try to foster solution thinking even amongst your team. Personally, I tell my team that I don’t need any more people who can identify the problems. (often the problems are painfully obvious)I need people who are committed to finding the solutions.

    We don’t take just anyone as a volunteer and we try them out first to make sure they are a fit.

    .-= Rob ´s last blog ..Performance Appraisals =-.