I will never forget the Staff Meeting where I confronted my Pastor about why I wasn’t made aware of the big Missions opportunity that the rest of the staff seemed to already know about. I let him know how upset I was that “those of us who are in Children’s Ministry and aren’t able to be in the Sanctuary on Sundays shouldn’t be kept in the dark.
My pastor kindly asked me, “Brian, did you not read the bulletin the last few weeks?” I had not. “Did you read the letter I sent home to every household in our church?” I did not. “Have you paid attention in Staff Meeting the last few weeks as we have been talking about it?” I had not. I had made the mistake of deciding, “If it isn’t directly related to Kids Ministry, I don’t really need to pay attention to it.”
I made a classic blunder: Having Tunnel Vision and Missing The BIG Picture.
Turns out it wasn’t my pastors fault I didn’t know about the opportunity. It was my own.
Every children’s ministry pastor and volunteer has to overcome the obstacle of being isolated to some degree from the mainstream of church life. We’re passionate about kids and excited about our roles, but it’s easy for us to develop a “silo mentality.” A silo occurs when each part of an organization becomes self-contained, independent from the others, and fails to coordinate vision, philosophy, and practices. It can happen in divisions of companies, and it can happen in churches—especially in kids’ ministries.
The leadership term “tunnel vision” is borrowed from the physical condition, which occurs when an individual loses peripheral vision (the ability to see objects on the top, bottom, and sides). The result is a very constricted field of vision. In organizations, a manager with tunnel vision is zoned-in on his single priority, and he doesn’t see much else. Being focused is good and helpful, but not in the extreme.
In kids’ ministries, we need to recognize the symptoms of tunnel vision. If we don’t, we may suffer severe consequences. Here are some dangers for kids’ pastors and other leaders:
Dangers Of Tunnel Vision:
- We develop a territorial spirit.
- We develop a “poor me” mentality
- We infect the rest of our Kidmin team.
- We fail to support (and may even compete with) the pastor’s vision.
- We fail to communicate key information to parents and team members.
Tunnel vision isn’t just an inconvenience. It’s an acid that eats away at everything good, right, noble, and pure in a leader’s heart, a team’s life, and a ministry’s impact. Want to beat it? Want to avoid Kidmin Tunnel Vision? It’s not enough to sit back and expect your pastor or other staff members to make sure you’re vitally connected with the entire scope of the church’s life. That’s your responsibility.
Here are some steps you can take to Avoid #Kidmin Tunnel Vision:
1) Read every available piece of information. – Make it a weekly practice to read the bulletin, newsletters, articles on the website, and anything else that tells what the church is doing.
2) Ask questions. – If you’re unsure about an upcoming event, a strategy, or any other plan, take the initiative to get an answer to your questions.
3) Watch or listen to the Sunday morning service. – Most churches record the pastor’s sermon each week. If you can’t attend the service (and most of the time you can’t), make it a priority to listen to the message sometime during the week. It will keep you connected to the pastor and to the heartbeat of the church.
4) Pay attention in staff meetings. – Shut down Twitter, Facebook, and your web browser. You are getting the info you need if you will just LISTEN and document it.
5) Regularly pray for your pastor and other department leaders. – This choice has made a huge difference in my perspective, my attitude, and my relationships with each person on the team. They’ve told me the greatest challenges they face in their ministries, and I found out their joys and struggles in their families. My commitment to pray for them has kept me connected and prevented me from becoming focused only on Kids Ministry.
So, don’t hesitate. Choose NOW to start these five habits. They will keep you from falling into the trap of #Kidmin Tunnel Vision, and you will stay vitally connected to your pastor and entire team.
For more on this subject, read my book, “I Blew It!”