All the coffee shops were closed due to COVID-19 and gentle rain had soggied my patio furniture outside. So four leaders gathered in my living room, three in person and one on Zoom. This was the reality of May.
Our monthly local children’s ministry leader meeting had been upended. We quickly adapted to the changes of lockdowns in March and April, trying to meet on Zoom. By now, we were all Zoomed out. Each of us had innovated, adapted, and changed every area of our work and we needed to process.
At this point in our relationships, we were comfortable enough to celebrate and lament the gifts that COVID-19 brought. Although the faces around the circle had changed, it started the very same way.
Five years before, I was brand new to leading ministry to kids. Being at a large, programmatic church, I found myself without footing or direction, as the one calling the shots.
It was my predecessor who introduced me to the local children’s ministry leader group and encouraged me to attend regularly. The group consisted of 3 dedicated members and a few casual attendees doing children’s ministry in our local area. We represented different denominations, yet we served the same mission.
At my very first meeting, I might have cried. Even though I had graduated with a Master’s of Divinity, I was overwhelmed thinking, What did I get myself into? I don’t have a clue what I’m doing! Around the table sat wise leaders who had faithfully served kids and had navigated their fair share of challenges. Yet, they knew they couldn’t do ministry alone.
For many around the table, ministry was lonely. But meeting at Starbucks once a month, we realized we were in ministry together. Our conversations gave us the courage to keep at it at least for another week. I found lifelong friends, prayer partners, and ministry advocates. This quickly became the meeting I couldn’t wait for in my month.
Looking back, I believe wholeheartedly that the women and men around the table with me in those meetings had encouraged me to keep at it in ministry while reminding me of my kingdom call.
I wonder now, if I was feeling lonely in ministry, how many children’s ministry leaders feel the very same way? How many even know who to reach out to? How many have a “tribe” that they meet with regularly to talk through the work and worship that they lead?
If you’ve been doing ministry for a minute or what feels like a millennium and you haven’t found partners in ministry, now is the time. We are facing a deep chasm in society that has isolated many of us even more. But I truly believe that the ministers who will thrive in this season are the ones who link arms with other leaders and keep building the kingdom in their own churches together.
Here are 4 ways that you can start cultivating meaningful relationships with other children’s ministry leaders.
1. Get to know another local children’s ministry leader.
Is there anyone else in your town who works in kids ministry that you can meet with once a month for a chat? I encourage you to meet safely in person. I recently met with a ministry friend on the patio of a restaurant. We were able to follow guidelines, and two hours later, we were both encouraged to keep at the work of ministry.
2. Join a Facebook group with other leaders.
Many curriculum and children’s ministry organizations have great conversation running through their Facebook feed. Another great option is the INCM Facebook page, where you can find other leaders who are navigating leadership just like you.
3. Attend virtual networking events.
I’m often blown away when a webinar begins and everyone writes where they are from in the chat. It seems regularly that someone says they’re from a town right near me in Minnesota. I usually chat that person back and make a connection. Through event chats, I have found other people who I can pick their brain, ask how they are planning next, and hear what they have learned in this season.
4. Sign up for INCM Membership.
This month INCM is opening up registration for INCM Membership to new members. This is unlike any other online platform. Not only do you receive amazing resources and training, but you also receive connection to people across the globe who are in it with you. The network on myINCM (the membership site) is filled with hundreds of leaders who are asking the questions that will move our communities forward. Join INCM Membership today!
Finding a group of leaders to meet with regularly can seem challenging. You might be thinking, I don’t have time! Or I don’t have anything to offer. I’m just too tired. I have made those excuses, too, even on the way to the monthly meeting.
However, if it wasn’t for those connections and partners in ministry, I wouldn’t have gone as far or served as faithfully. And I could almost guarantee that if you’re alone in ministry, you won’t either. I encourage you to take one step toward finding a network of leaders for yourself today. You will not regret it.