Still looking back in this series and in my children’s ministry, there is one more thing I wish I had known at 50:
That networking will make you smarter than you are.
I had just turned 50 when I came on staff at Momentum Church. A children’s pastor with 30 years experience, yet I was at a complete loss as to where to begin. All my previous experience had been in very traditional church settings. Momentum was a portable church, setting up and tearing down every Sunday to have a worship service. That meant putting everything you used to teach, all tech, all props, all everything, in a box and loading it in a trailer, set it up at the theater, have service, then put it all back in boxes and back on the trailer; all before the first movies began at noon!
How do you do games? What back drops work best? What materials all will hold up to the constant loading and unloading? How do you have a clean, safe nursery on the floor of a theater? The questions came faster than I could write them down. It seemed that every turn, every department, every inch of the ministry was unlike anything I had ever done before. I was clueless.
And these were just a few of the questions that I had. Thankfully, my friend, Eric, had introduced me to Twitter the summer before. I enjoyed the social aspects of it, and the ability to keep up with what my friends were doing across the state, but I didn’t realize yet the magnitude of resources and support that Twitter would offer. I had just found out about hashtags and #kidmin and my first tweets with that were about how best to run a portable children’s ministry. From there, it is history. I tweeted questions and tweets with links to pictures of other portable ministries responded. I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, or the trailer to get my stuff in and out. Many others were all ready in the same situation and gladly shared their insights. I learned quickly what would work and what wouldn’t. And not by trial and error, but by the wisdom of those who share through social networking what they have learned all ready.
Had I realized coming into the portable set up that this much help was available, my sleep would have been better in those first days! No matter how old we are, no matter how long we have served, there is always the chance you will find yourself in a completely new and unfamiliar situation. Rest assured that someone else is there, or has been there, and if you will take advantage of the social networking opportunities around you, you will not only survive, you will thrive in this new environment.