1. Kids really do watch everything you do. AND THEY REPEAT IT! Kids look to you, because you are the adult figure in their life for that hour, or however long you have them. They know that you are carrying something for them. And to them, you appear to have it all together. Kids will watch you during worship. They will watch what you are doing during the main teaching. And if they see you do something, they will assume that it is acceptable behavior and follow it. So the age-old statement of "lead by example" is so true in kids ministry.
2. Structure is great, but moments are life-changing. There was a period of time when I was on staff at a church as the Children's Pastor. During that period of time, I found myself getting so caught up in the "to-do" lists for service that I lost sight of the real reason I was there. And my sunday mornings were effected. I had my order of service and was so focused on sticking to it, that I sometimes ran straight through the little moments that the Lord had orchestrated for me to have with a kid. Those little moments are what makes a difference in kids lives. They may not remember what song we sang, or what the Bible illustration was, but they will remember those small moments with you.
3. Figure out what your purpose and mission are for your ministry. Don't go into your ministry blind. Seek the Lord diligently about what His purpose is for your ministry, and communicate that to your volunteers. You could have a volunteer staff of 5 or 55, but if you all are on a different page, then kids will fall through the cracks.
Anyone can come into a building and put on a show... or teach a lesson, but if you are doing it without a word from the Lord, or clear direction from Him, then it is being done in vain. Bottom line is that every Sunday or Wednesday night, you have to ask yourself, "what is this unto?" And then strive to meet the standard that the Lord has placed in front of you. He doesn't set standards that we can't meet.
4. FIGHT for your ministry: Show your church just how important kids ministry really is. I've come across some churches over the past that pour resources and energy into what seems like every other ministry EXCEPT kids ministry! The first church I served at was blessed with resources and the senior pastor was "in the loop" on what was going on with the kids. He would come to different events we put on, and was excited about what we were doing. But kids ministry was still it's own thing in the church. At the second church I served at, the pastor really didn't have much to do with the kids. Now, don't get me wrong, he didn't have his hand completely out of it, but kids ministry just wasn't his top priority. The church that I'm at now I think has hit the nail on the head. The kids pastor's and senior pastor work together and the entire church, kids included, are learning the same things, from the same part of the Bible each week and that provides a support system like none I've never seen before. Having the support of the pastoral team and the church body immensely helps to strengthen your ministry.
5. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are volunteers. This is probably one of the most important things I've learned in kids ministry. You have to train up your volunteers. When I started in kids ministry, I was a 14 year-old girl who didn't really know what she was doing. The children's pastor I was serving under knew that, so she didn't drop me into a directing role, or immediately leading worship. Instead, she paired me with someone who had been serving for a while. I helped them out in the sound booth, and eventually I started running sound by myself and that then turned into me overseeing the tech team of our ministry. Also at that young age, I wasn't released right away to pray with kids one on one...again, I was trained up in that, learning how to listen to the kids and pray specifically. I probably would have failed in kids ministry if I had been dropped in unprepared. Raising up volunteers is key to a ministry. You may have some junior highers who want to help out... find out what their skills are and what they are passionate about and pair them with someone to help develop those skills and train them up to be effective ministers of the Word.
~Stacee "The Intern" Strickland