By Steven Ackley
Alignment can be easy to fake, for a season. Imagine the typical fall kick-off for a church. You’re entering one of the highest reengagement seasons and launch new plans, new programming, and a fresh look and feel for your ministries. You coordinate as a family ministry team and send out a calendar to parents, training for preschool, kids, and student ministry leaders on the same day and in the same place, and champion all of the ministries under your family ministry efforts. But then reality hits when you, your leaders, and your parents come to realize that you may have coordinated communication, training, and theme on paper but not in philosophy.
Parents received a calendar for the semester but notice multiple events split their family at the same time in different places. Programming times that make pick up and drop off complex. In your leader training, they hear expectations for that ministry area that are inconsistent with other areas of the family ministry team. There is a coordinated theme for the year, but the curriculum is different and uncoordinated.
These are real examples of how family ministry teams may say the same things and even do similar things but not be aligned in philosophy. When there is a lack of shared philosophy, division creeps in, parents get frustrated, and your team begins to compete for time, money, people, facilities, and promotion.
Here are three ways to ensure alignment in ministry philosophy among your family ministry team team.
Provide specific training but don’t neglect collective training.
When training is isolated, it is likely that these leaders will become experts in their area with little to no desire for collaboration. Be intentional about designing some of your training experiences as a time for all preschool, kids, and student ministry leaders to ensure alignment in philosophy of ministry.
Share your time equitably.
One of the more challenging parts of leading family ministry for me has been sharing my time equitably. But, I’ve also found that this can be a tremendous benefit in ensuring the philosophical alignment of the team. During programming, walk the halls and encourage the leaders and staff. Spend time with different areas and encourage them in their work. These efforts to spread your time across the team are easy ways to promote unity, collaboration, and alignment.
Regularly check in with your volunteers and leaders.
Ask tough questions about their ministry. This will only be successful if the team member isn’t threatened by this time but sees it as a supportive effort to ensure team and ministry health. Ask questions about the why and how of their ministry that lead the team member to consider the underlying reasons for what they are doing. Additionally, help realign team members if necessary during those meetings to ensure a shared philosophy.
Alignment in family is crucial for success. And though much of what is seen is typically the judge of alignment, it is the ministry philosophy that must be aligned for long-term health and viability. Be intentional about training, time, and natural opportunities for realignment in philosophy to ensure the effectiveness of your ministry and your team.
Adapted from Training Pathway: Family Ministry. Check out more training videos on Ministry Grid.
Steven Ackley, his wife Emily, and their four kids live out their love for anything sports and Cookout milkshakes in Murfreesboro, TN where Steven serves as the NextGen and College Pastor at LifePoint Church. Steven holds a D.Min. and an MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.