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I recently finished reading Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness. He has a whole section of the book on how the strategy of poker is very similar to the strategy of running a successful business. Interestingly enough, as I thought more about it, poker strategy has a lot to do with running a successful kidmin.

Go Figure!

This week is all about learning kidmin from a few poker strategies. Let’s kick it off with a great reminder for all of us.

“Remember that it’s a long-term game. You will win or lose individual hands or sessions, but it’s what happens in the long term that matters.”

I start with this because I sometimes I find it difficult to remember. Children’s ministry is not a one-time event. It’s not even 52 weeks of events. Children’s ministry is an investment of years of time and resources towards building the next generation of the church.

Children’s ministry is about building relationships over the long term: with kids, leaders, and families.

If we only “play” with the next Sunday in mind, we’ll never move people into deeper relationships with Jesus and each other. We need to think strategically over the long haul.

Think in terms of your scope and sequence.

If you’re using a curriculum from a publishing house, chances are you’re getting this already. Make sure you know what it is and be able to articulate that to parents who ask. Knowing where you’re going over the long haul will be an important part of casting vision to your volunteers as well.

If you write your own curriculum, before you even begin the process. Sit down and map out what you plan to accomplish over a three year cycle.

What will your kids learn this year? Do the building-blocks make sense?

When your kids leave your program will they be ready for what they will learn during the next stage your family ministry?

How much of the Bible do you cover? Are you covering all of the major stories/characters/teachings?

Invest in the leaders of today.

Volunteer care is not a t-shirt. Sure it may include a t-shirt, but care is an investment in volunteers not because of what they do but because of who they are. None of us are ever finished learning. We need to be stretched and challenged to become better.

When we invest in others, we’re thinking long-term. People will be more likely to keep serving. Some will take on greater responsibilities. Others will move on to other ministries. But the investment in the long term is actually an investment in the Kingdom of God. Whether leaders keep serving in our ministries or not, taking the time to build into them is win for everyone.

What training could your current leaders use?

Have you identified leaders who could take a larger role in your ministry?

Have you taken time to mark out your leadership pipeline from recruitment to growth?

Invest in the leaders of tomorrow.

There are all sorts of people in your church not serving, not because they don’t want to serve, but maybe because they don’t feel ready. For many of these people, even the “big ask” from the senior pastor might not be enough for them to take a step towards serving in kidmin. Think about offering different and perhaps unconventional ways for people to get assimilated into your ministry.

Which of your current small group leaders could apprentice/mentor teens?

Could you offer recruitment incentives to current volunteers? Shoulder-tapping people you know is one of the best ways of recruiting.

Offer training events that are open to the whole church not just your current set of volunteers.

Your own leadership tenure.

While I was in seminary, a prof told us a statistic about children’s and youth pastors. The average tenure of a kid/youth pastor in the US is only 18 months. Honestly, that’s hardly enough time to get on top of the learning curve of operations, must less build a relationship with your church families and kids.

What could your ministry look like if you committed yourself to stay for five or ten years? Think about the relationships that you could build over that time, the ministry that you could have. It could be exponential!

My friend Sam wrote a GREAT post on how to invest in yourself as you head into ministry for the long haul. Please check it out: “Be a self-feeder.”

What would you add to this list for working towards a long-term ministry? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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