Do You Suffer From #Kidmin Tunnel Vision?

tunnel vision

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:

  1. We develop a territorial spirit.
  2. We develop a “poor me” mentality
  3. We infect the rest of our Kidmin team.
  4. We fail to support (and may even compete with) the pastor’s vision.
  5. 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!”

The Poison Of Procrastination

As I’ve talked to hundreds of people involved in kids’ ministries across the country, I’ve observed that there’s an epidemic of procrastination.  We excuse it in all kinds of ways, but all our reasons lead to the same result.  Yes, you have to be quick, and you never know what a kid is going to say or what kind of crazy thing will happen next.  But many kids’ leaders believe their enthusiastic personalities and the spontaneity of their ministry give them a license to walk in unprepared.  They try to get by, doing the least they can do, and it shows.

I know what this is all about.  I used to fall prey to this procrastination trap for many years.  I wrote about it in my book, I Blew It! (the biggest mistakes I have made in Kids Ministry and how you can avoid them)”.  In the book, I tell about how the spontaneity bug bit me and caused me to lose credibility.

There’s no excuse for procrastination in preparing for children’s ministry.  God has given us an incredible privilege and responsibility to lead kids on their spiritual journey to becoming life-long followers of Jesus Christ. Someday, we’ll give an account for our motives and actions.  I don’t want to stand before God on that day and tell Him, “I would’ve been more intentional about my ministry to Your children, God, but I had more important things to do.”

Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the day that’s coming: “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10, cf. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

We serve kids because we love God with all our hearts and He has given us a love for children.  And we work hard to prepare and serve because someday we’ll give an account of our lives.  On that day, we want to see Him smile and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23)

That’s what I want to hear.  How about you?

Are You Missing The Trees?



We have all heard the phrase, “They can’t see the forest for the trees.”  This usually refers to someone who is so totally focused on the individual problems, issues, or difficulties of life that they fail to see the BIG picture.  While this can often happen in the life of a Kidmin Pastor/Leader, I believe there is a VISION failure that can be even more devastating.

Sometimes, as leaders, we are missing the TREES for the forest.  We become focused on the BIG picture (the forest) and we lose sight of the trees (individuals).  Ministry is not ONLY about the BIG picture, it is also – and most specifically –  about the individual.

When Jesus gave the GREAT COMMISSION to His followers just before He ascended to Heaven, He said, “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19,20)

Often, we focus a lot on the global aspect of the GREAT COMMISSION:  “all the nations.”  We like to think of big groups, large crowds, huge attendance.  We are trained that way – especially in the American mindset.  Everything becomes about the group, rather than the individual.  The larger our ministry group gets, the easier it is to start looking at it as a forest, rather than a group of individual trees.

We must never forget the individual aspect of the GREAT COMMISSION: “disciples.”  Disciples are not created in herds.  Disciples are created as individuals.  Jesus said, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”  Baptism is a personal and individual experience.  Oh, sure, you might put a lot of people under at once, but the experience is one of individual outward display of inward change.  “Teaching them to obey all the commands I have given you.”  Oh sure, you might be able to teach a lesson to a large group, but the only way you will know if they are “obeying” is by knowing each of them individually, personally, deeply.

I had a God-moment this morning while praying and studying.  The Lord challenged me to take a step further into knowing each of the children in my ministry deeply.  He challenged me to stop looking at them as a herd, but to see them as individual sheep.  I committed to do just that.

How about you?  Are you seeing ministry as a “group exercise” or “individual life change?”  Share your thoughts in the comments section.

How To Avoid Kidmin Tunnel Vision

In my previous post, I shared the dangers of Kidmin Tunnel Vision.  This is when you get so laser focused on Kids Ministry that you fail to keep the BIG picture of the WHOLE church in mind.  Today, I want to share how you can avoid falling into this trap!

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.