Don’t Create a Ministry Kingdom

Joey Espinosa —  February 15, 2012

A few years ago, a Children’s Ministry conference came to our home town. We knew it would be a great opportunity for our key staff to learn and to have a team-building day. Over the two-day conference, we would attend different breakout sessions, and then debrief over meals (or ice cream!)

As usual for conferences, we were overwhelmed with a plethora of ideas. We were excited to implement a few ideas immediately. But at the last breakout session I and a co-worker attended, the facilitator said something that rubbed us the wrong way. She said, “You need to manipulate your pastor into thinking your ideas are his ideas, so that you can get what you want.”

Why This Is Wrong?

The facilitator said this in a light-hearted manner, to elicit laughter from the audience (90 plus percent of the crowd did seemingly find it funny). But I think it was only meant half-jokingly. I know that this mindset (of needing to fight and finagle for resources) is common among kidmin leaders, and in many other ministries, too.

Do you ever feel like your children’s ministry doesn’t have enough volunteers, funding, and spotlight? Maybe you feel overlooked by those who focus on adult worship or student ministry. I’ve been there. I understand the struggle that comes with leading in children’s ministry. When I was a full-time children’s pastor at a large church, tension was common, as each leader worked towards individual ministry goals.

However, despite the tensions that inevitably arose, we never manipulated or worked behind each others’ backs. Yes, we discussed privately, but we always supported each other publicly. Why?

First, as leaders we need to remember that the most important goal is the glorification of Jesus Christ. The growth of His Kingdom is all that ultimately matters. Second, we are called to maintain that unity that Jesus created at the Cross (Ephesians 4:1-3). Disunity in the church is the enemy of the Gospel.

A Better Way

Your children’s ministry is good. Lives are being changed, and children are growing to know God. But you know that more could be done if you had money resources, more volunteers, and more attention. But don’t let it become “survival of the fittest.” Don’t create a ministry kingdom of your own.

Maybe God is using your struggles and challenges as a way to help you trust in Him more. When you feel like you are having to struggle and fight for what you think is best, it is a great opportunity to examine your heart, to check your motives, and to trust your church leadership.

Because the reason that Paul commands (in Ephesians 4) that we must “maintain the unity of the Spirit” is that he knows the church is apt to break that unity. By nature we are proud and competitive, so he reminds us to be humble, gentle, and patient, “bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit.”

The word “eager” reminds us to go beyond an external show of unity. We could make the mistake of giving a smile and a nod, while holding onto inner bitterness. We must be eager to be unified, as this is what it looks like “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling” that we have in Jesus Christ.

Joey Espinosa

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After 10 years of working as a chemist, and 4 years as a full-time Pastor of Children & Families, Joey now works at-risk children (and their families) in the most impoverished area in his state. He is married to his best friend, and they have three children who are enjoying their family's adventure!