As I look back on the beginning of my time as a children’s pastor, I’m often struck by what went well and what I wish I could change. For me, my early years were marked by a church that was struggling. I know that many children’s and youth pastors are experiencing the same things I did, so I decided to write down what I learned from working in a struggling church. Part one of this series can be found here, and part two can be found here.
As I finish up my thoughts on thriving in a struggling church environment, I want to touch upon the thing that kept me sane more than anything else – having people to talk to. As I (a) learned how to be a children’s pastor and (b) grew in a struggling church, I needed to rely on the advice and support of wise people around me.
Obviously, the need to have friends who can guide, admonish, and hold you accountable is present in every ministry context. However, when you are working in a struggling church, the need to find people to talk through ministry takes on a different tenor. I’ve been so thankful over the past several years for the people who lent me their ears and their hearts, and from my experiences here’s what I would say about the need to find good people to lift it up.
- Find people who you can be entirely open with, and that often means going outside the body of your church. I have been blessed to have great elders over my ministry, including one who had served as a youth pastor. I was blessed to have them guide me, because they could see what was going on and could relate. Nonetheless, I was thankful to have people who weren’t involved at FCC to guide me because their separation from my day-to-day allowed me to lay my emotions out there without reservation. You need people that you can be totally open with, and that often means going outside the realm of your church.
- Talk to people with expertise. One of the great pleasures of blogging is that it opens the door to great interactions with other children’s ministers. This allowed me to have conversations with people who could understand the unique challenges that come with children’s ministry. We all want to support our fellow children’s ministers, so reach out and find one you can talk with.
- Find people who can speak truth in to your life. You’re not perfect, neither am I. We need people who can tell us when we’re wrong, misguided, or plain dumb. After all, the pain of being corrected by a friend is far more bearable than the pain of realizing you’ve been on the wrong path for weeks.
What about you? What tips do you have about finding a person to talk your struggles out with? Please share!