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Thursday, June 30, 2016

"Leading Kids Ministry" (Pat Cimo and Matt Markins)

TITLE: Leading KidMin: How to Drive Real Change in Children's Ministry
AUTHOR: Pat Cimo and Matt Markins
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2016, (176 pages).

How do we drive real change? What does it take to be a change agent in children's ministry? Is it about following the latest trends about children's work? Is it about trying to maintain relevance in a sea of changing expectations? Is it about attractive programs? No. It starts with being a change agent for God. In order to be change agents, we must first be changed. In order to be part of God's ministry to drive change, we must be transformed by God and be renewed in our hearts and minds. In order to lead kids ministry, we must be led. In order to be part of real change in ministry, we must be changed from the inside out. This is the key thesis in this book that aims to encourage and empower leaders and leaders to be in kids ministry.

We first need to get ministry right by recognizing that change is a process. It is not an isolated one-time event. We need to be clear about what we want to happen and what we need to do. It is about gaining perspective and to communicate it clearly to our co-workers. It is about gaining self-awareness. This can be facilitated with various tools to help us find our strengths and weaknesses. Leaders in Kids Ministry need to be empowered by senior leaders, something that this book also describes later. The chapter on "Running Toward Your Problem" is a crucial test of our willingness to face up to our challenges. Are we running away or toward? Are we humble enough to ask for help and feedback? Are we able to partner with other volunteers, senior leadership, parents, and others? Truth is, far too many kids ministry leaders do it alone. In order to reverse this trend, the authors propose nine steps toward healthy partnership.

The second part of the book covers the responsibility and role of influencing the grander vision of the Church. We need to be in sync with the Church in order to bring focus and loyalty for all. Without this alignment, we suffer gaps in ministry; overlaps that are unnecessary; and a lack of communication. Any changes made must align to the overall thrust of the Church ministry. Learning to align also means learning about the thoughts and directions of the senior pastoral leadership. Cimo and Markins provide a list of helpful things to ask the pastor or senior pastor. In building partnerships that work, I appreciate the "Nine Steps Toward Healthy Partnerships" to enable the kids ministry leaders to take initiative.

The final part of the book looks at "Driving it Right" and what it means to lead from within. From our words to our actions, we need to listen well and to make full opportunity of aha moments like:

  • Prioritizing the values needed for each ministry issue
  • Learn to ask: "How can I help you win?"
  • Recognize our fears
  • Learn to wonder at what God is doing
  • Avoid change fatigue.

Every ministry leader will need to find his or her voice. We cannot remain perpetually on a listening mode without any firm call to action. When we find our voice, we learn to join the chorus to help the symphony excel. Learning to lead also means learning to be convicted in one's voice. If people do not speak up or lose their voice, the community of ministry leaders and volunteers will only be impoverished.

So What?
Children are a gift from the Lord. We would all agree. Yet, the ministry to children is not a walk in the park. We deal with many issues like learning to relate to children at various stages of their lives; relating to their parents; serving them in churches and community groups; working together with co-workers and Church leaders; and so on. Put in rowdy and restless children and we have our challenges multiplied many fold. As kids ministry leaders at Willow Creek Community Church plus over 29 years of experience in kids' ministry, Pat Cimo is a veteran who is constantly learning and sharing. Her passion is to develop "champions of faith." Her co-author, Matt Markins is on the Awana executive leadership team and have served in leadership roles with Thomas-Nelson Publishers, Randall House, and was also co-founder of the D6 Conference.

Rather than simply providing tips and classroom techniques, this book goes beyond that to create a movement of "change agents." These people are highly aware of the need to change, that they can be changed and they can help facilitate changes. Such a focus is beyond mere trends or just trying to be relevant with the surrounding culture. Sometimes, when we look at the needs of children's ministries, we are tempted to simply respond to all kinds of needs. Though these efforts help meet short-term goals, they may not help long-term purposes of the ministry. This is why the authors have chosen a laser-like approach to concentrate on equipping the leaders. By helping them to get the perspective; to serve with conviction and the call; and to move forward as a team, we will have a formidable environment to instil lasting change.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Moody Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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