It’s a blessing and a curse to be a leader in this day and age, isn’t it?
It’s a blessing because it seems like almost every area of life is getting easier. It’s a curse because you’re expected to make things exponentially easier for your volunteers, too!
That makes sense, though. Almost everything is getting easier.
- I can’t remember the last time I had to ask for directions. (Thanks, Google!)
- I can keep in contact with all my old friends and make new ones around the world. (Thanks, Twitter!)
- I’m automatically reminded of my next appointment. (Thanks, Siri!)
But ministry? I don’t think ministry is getting easier—for leaders or volunteers.
It seems like no matter how advanced the technology gets for the local church, ministry is still tough work. (And this is coming for a guy who has worked for two software companies that specialize in ministry tools!)
But that begs the question: Should ministry be easy in the first place?
Ministry isn’t easy in the Bible
I suppose it makes sense that ministry isn’t necessarily easy. “Ministry” literally means “service,” and service usually involves some work!
Plus, when I look at what some of the characters in the Bible experienced while they did ministry, “easy” isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind.
- Ministry wasn’t easy for the prophets. The Israelites planned to kill Moses a few times. Jeremiah was thrown in a pit. Daniel was thrown to the lions. Elijah was considered an enemy of the state.
- Ministry wasn’t easy for the apostles, either. James was beheaded. John was exiled. Peter was crucified. Paul had quite the list of hardships (2 Corinthians 11:23–29).
- Ministry definitely wasn’t easy for Jesus!
- Paul doesn’t think ministry will be easy for the people he taught, either. He tells Timothy that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).
Ministry isn’t easy. It probably never will be.
So what can leaders do?
Your volunteers see everything getting easier around them, and they’re going to expect ministry to keep pace. How can you, as a leader, help them out—even though ministry will never be easy?
I can think of one huge way you can help them:
If you can’t make it easier, make it simpler.
Easy vs simple
“Easy” and “simple” are often thrown around as synonyms. However, when it comes to ministry, there’s a difference.
“Easy” means something takes less work.
“Simple” means something is less complex or convoluted.
You can make lots of things easier. But for the stuff that’s irreducibly hard work (like ministry!), you can always look for ways to make the process less complex.
For example: many people are afraid of public speaking—it’s been said that people are more afraid of public speaking than death and spiders! You won’t make that easier for the brave volunteers who agree to teach large group.
But you can make the process simpler for them. You can get them a script ahead of time. You can have all the props ready to go backstage (or onstage). You can do a mic check before the session begins. You can put a clock in the back of the room so they know how they’re doing on time!
You see the difference? You’re not making it easier for the volunteer to speak in public. But you are making the whole process surrounding the hard work a lot less complex. There’s less that the volunteer needs to think about—they’re free to focus on what they need to do.
You won’t make ministry easier. But you can definitely make it simple.
3 ways to simplify your children’s ministry
There are many ways you can start making your children’s ministry simpler. Here are a few to consider as you gear up for the beginning of the school year.
Consider fewer programs
Church consultant Tony Morgan recently warned churches not to launch too many programs this fall. Consider how many programs you have going on—and how your volunteers are spread across them. Is there a way for you to consolidate your programs? Can you cut some of the good programs to make the others great?
Make an internal communication strategy
Take an afternoon and plan out when you will send messages to your team. The more consistent you are in your messaging, the more consistent your volunteers can be in reading and responding to your messages! Some messages you will want to strategize may include:
- Weekly reminder of Sunday morning’s agenda
- Monthly lesson assignments
- Encouraging notes for the team
Take an afternoon to determine when the best times might be to send these (and other) to your volunteers. By being consistent, you make the whole ministry experience simpler for your volunteers—they know when they’ll hear from you!
Consolidate your systems and services
It’s easier for volunteers to buy into one platform than many! While some of your volunteers will be quicker to pick up on digital tools than others, even the tech-savviest of them don’t want to get bogged down with too many platforms and services.
(This is one of the reasons we made Disciplr. It’s a single platform that handles all the shopping for Sunday school lessons, managing volunteers, and even your shopping lists for classroom materials. Plus, the lessons are cloud-based, so your volunteers don’t need to think about hunting down attachments in their inboxes.)
If you consolidate the tools you use, your volunteers will have less of a hassle learning the ropes—and you won’t find it as difficult to retain them! Again, this doesn’t make the ministry itself easier, but it sure does make it simpler!
Volunteers want to serve. And though you can’t make ministry easy, there are plenty of ways you can make it simpler for them!
And if you’re interested in getting some more tips for growing as a KidMin leader, I recommend you check out Greg Baird’s free guide: 8 Qualities of a Great Sunday School Teacher.