10 Great Leadership Books For Children’s Ministry

Stack of vintage books isolated on whiteThere are some wonderful resources out there about leadership in children’s ministry. While I don’t agree with everything in every book listed here, (I agree with most of it), they are guaranteed to challenge you. Here are 10 of my favorites.


1. Children’s Ministry Leadership: The You Can Do It Guide  by Jim Wideman

Practical, hands-on manual for developing an effective children’s ministry. I highly recommend this book especially for new children’s pastors.

2. Children’s Ministry Volunteers That Stick by Jim Wideman

The best book on recruiting and training volunteers ever written.

3. Leadership Essentials For Children’s Ministry  by Craig Jutila

Leadership principles for building a team using the acronym PATH: Passion, Attitude, Teamwork, Honor.

4. The Growing Leader: Healthy Essentials For Children’s Ministry by Craig Jutila

Leadership principles for building a team using the acronym DIVE: Discerning, Influential, Vulnerable, and Exalting.

5. Children’s Ministry In The 21st Century by Craig Jutila, Pat Verbal, and Jim Wideman

Great practical advise on children’s ministry for this generation.

6. Think Orange by Reggie Joiner

This book explains the orange style of family ministry.

7.  Redefining Children’s Ministry In the 21st Century by Becky Fischer

A book about how to help children move in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is a must for pentecostal children’s pastors.

8. The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe

This is a great book to help you understand the Homelander Generation, the generation now in our children’s ministries. Here’s a link to some blog posts about ministering to the Homelander Generation.

9. Fast Forward MBA In Project Management by Eric Verzuh

Effective children’s pastors need to learn and understand the basics of project management of the will eventually crash and burn. But if you haven’t learned the basics of time management yet, I strongly recommend you read and apply this next book first.

10. Beat The Clock: Successful Strategies For Effective Time Management by Jim Wideman

Time Management 101.

Advice For New Children’s Pastors

Children’s ministry is a daunting calling. Most of the time, when adults are called to this important ministry, they have very little training and no mentors to help them. This is one reason I began this blog.

To further help you, I asked for advice from veteran children’s pastors for those starting out in children’s ministry. Here’s the answers I got. Be sure to visit their blogs and websites. Just click on thier names.

Sam Luce, Children’s Pastor at Mt. Zion Ministries Church in New York

Pray, read, listen, learn, network and cast a clear, compelling vision that is greater than you bigger than your organization.

Amy Dolan, Executive Director for Willow Creek Children’s Ministries in Chicago, Illinois

Empower and lean into your most loyal volunteers to help you cast vision, recruit, and train others.

Aaron DeLay

Patience. Understanding. A poker face. You gotta have ’em all.

Spencer Click, Children’s Pastor at Bethel Temple Assembly of God in Ohio

Go buy – Volunteers that Stick & The Children’s Ministry Leadership you-can-do-it guide by Bro. Jim. Then get a membership to The Club…that should help. After you’ve got all that mastered – then enroll in Infuse with Bro. Jim. Then after all that – ask a lot of questions.

Adam Kisler, Children’s Pastor of Rock Kids in Kansas

If you are married, make sure the two of you are on the same page and make time for each other. If you have children make sure you make time for them, if you save the whole world and lose your family what have you truly accomplished.

Also Children are only 50% of what makes up children’s ministry, the other 50% is parents. If you want to impact a child then you need to impact their family and home life.

Think outside the box and reach kids in relevant ways. Outreaches, Schools, Family events, etc.

Ned Gable, Children’s Pastor at Brookwood Church in Greenville, South Carolina

As a new children’s pastor there is one very important concept you must grasp if you want to be successful. If there are more than 10 kids in your ministry you are not a children’s pastor… you are a volunteer pastor. Put 80% of your time (or more if your church is larger) into enlisting, equipping and encouraging volunteers. The sooner you realize this the better off you’ll be. Want to know how to do this… read Robert Coleman’s “Master Plan of Evangelism,” and then memorize “Volunteers that Stick” by Jim Wideman.

Melinda Madison, Children’s Pastor at Hillcrest Church in Florida

Great advice already. Stay grounded in the Word and make time for worship/alone time with the Lord. If there are weeks that you don’t have corporate worship, find other ways to do so (podcasts, etc.). Tim Elmore has some great leadership books. In one of his books, he warns against becoming the “hungry baker”, always feeding others, but not yourself.

Prioritize and find a healthy balance. Make time for your family and if things get too busy, then it’s time to see what has to give. Having a strong, dedicated volunteer base is crucial. Invest in your leaders.

Keeo a journal so you can reflect on the joys of serving the Lord through kids. It’s great to look back and see how the Lord has answered prayers and be reminded of the sunshine kids/their families bring into our lives!

Sean A. Bynum, Children’s Pastor at Manna Church in North Carolina

Seek God for His vision for the ministry instead of seeking yours and asking Him to get on board. This is the hardest and most rewarding calling in the local church. Be assertive and cultivate the ability to hear from God. Once you have heard, cast the vision and follow through.

Nancy from Lexington, Kentucky

One of the best pieces of advice I received when I began was to gather a team around me. At first, if it is nothing more than people who have a heart for children and ministry, they will be the ones that you share your vision with… the ones who will hear your heart and not just see changes… they will help you cast your vision to the rest of the church and will be your biggest support.

Another thing that I have learned is that over the past 100 years or so the church as a whole has done a marvelous job of splitting up families as soon as they enter the door. I am a firm believer in age appropriate learning but I am also a firm believer in parents being the spiritual leaders in their home. Unfortunately, we have laid a path for many parents to think that the church is responsible for the complete spiritual development of their children. So my advice is to look at empowering parent to lead their children. Make it common for them to experience prayer time and Bible time together… make them Deut. 6:7 families. After all the church may only have the child one hour a week…

Rach Quinn, Children’s Pastor at Arise Church in Australia

That is brilliant advice. I started out the kids ministry in my church (planted Oct 08); and getting people around me who shared the vision and were fully prepared to champion the cause for our kids was the best thing i’ve done. I’d say- especially in small churches, to not just grab whoever’s free that Sunday but to actually look for people who do have a specific heart for the children. Look for the BEST for your kids, and as for the kids; just love on them. I get kids run in from across the street on Sundays, just to get to kids church early; simply because we give them an environment where they’re loved and encouraged. That’s the greatest thing in a child’s life.

Matt Lee, Children’s Pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Indiana

Three simple things I have learned…
1. Pace Yourself but have a clear vision with big dreams. I have been reminded often that Rome wasn’t build overnight, but Nehemiah rebuilt the walls in 52 days because he put these three things into practice.

2. Don’t underestimate the importance of training your children and the church that the children are an important part of the body of Christ. In our church they have showed the adults how to give from the heart, how to serve unselfishly, and how to evangelize to total strangers. I am not talking about making sure they get up and put on a show for the adults every once in awhile. I am talking about challenging your kids to be the church. To serve in areas they are passionate about and in areas they are needed to serve in.

3. Humble Yourself and be open to learn from others. Even those with bad methods can teach you something.

Tamera Kraft, Revival Fire For Kids, Children’s Ministry Revivalist

I would agree with all of these words of wisdom, but I would add one more. Don’t underestimate the children you’re ministering to. Mentor and disciple them, and give them opportunities to minister. Children can grow spiritually mature before they grow physically or emotionally mature. God has used children and teenagers in every major revival in history. Children aren’t the church of tomorrow, they’re the church of today. But they are the leaders of tomorrow.

10 Ways To Build An Effective Children’s Ministry Team

After you have a children’s ministry team in place, here’s 10 ways to make your team effective.

1. Have Qualifications: No matter how tempted you are to recruit any warm body you can find, don’t lower your standards. Let people know that only people who meet certain qualifications can be on your team. It takes longer to do it this way, but the workers you recruit will be long term team members who will add to your effectiveness in ministry. Here’s a link to help you recruit workers.

2. Have Clear Expectations: When you recruit a member to your team, let him know what you expect from him. Give him a job description and a policy manual. Here’s a link to a policy manuel you can buy from Revival Fire For Kids.

3. Have On-Going Training: Have training for new recruits and on-going training for your workers. There are many ways to conduct training that doesn’t require a lot of time. Here’s a link for way to have teacher training.

4. Build Relationships: Spend individual time with your team members. Let them know you care about them as people, not just as team members.

5. Have Team Fellowships: Plan activities for the team to get together and hang out. Make sure you plan activities that the team members enjoy. Be creative. When you do this, team members will build relationships with each other which will help them be more effective.

6. Be Accountable To Your Team: Let your team know if you are struggling in an area and need prayer. If a team member comes to you about a problem they perceive, don’t blow them off.

7. Pray For Each Other: Have a prayer chain with your team members. If someone needs prayer, have a way to get the word out to the other team members whether by phone, email, or text messaging.

8. Communicate: Let the team members know what you’re planning and where your vision for the Children’s Ministry is going. They can’t follow if they don’t know where you’re going. Also make sure to have a communication plan to inform children’s team members about changes.

9. Empower: Give team members responsibility over areas of ministry. Empower them to minister. Follow-up to make sure the job is getting done, but don’t micro-manage or take back the reins of leadership unless there’s a major problem. Work with the team member to work through any issues.

10. Evaluate: Have meeting with team members to evaluate what’s working and what’s not working with children’s ministry. Offer a safe place to pitch creative ideas that are out of the box.

Developing A Great Children’s Ministry Team

A great children’s ministry team is not just of volunteers who are willing to teach or work at children’s ministry events. A great children’s ministry team will help you plan, develop, and execute a great children’s ministry. Here’s 10 ideas for developing your team.

1. Give the team opportunities for imput. Some children’s pastors don’t use their best resources, their team, because they feel they need to do all the planning themselves. Give your team a chance to provide imput, and you may be pleasantly surprised at what happens.

2. Develop Friendships. Create opportunities for team members to develop friendships through events that have nothing to do with children’s ministry. Have a picnic, go to a movie, go bowling, or order pizza and have a game night at your house. Also have one on one time with members of your team. Go to lunch with them and find out what they need prayer about and where they see the children’s ministry going.

3. Don’t Micro-Manage. If you place a team member over an area, make clear expectations of what you expect the team member to do and check periodically to make sure the team member is on task and doesn’t need assistance. But don’t take the job back, and don’t expect the team member to do everything your way. Release it to your team. Don’t micro-manage. If you do, your team members will back off and let you do the job.

4. Use Creative Planning Sessions. Spend time during meetings or social events to do creative planning with your team. During these planning sessions, make it clear this isn’t the time to decide which ideas you’re going to implement. This is the time to throw out ideas you would do if you had unlimited resources and man power. Also during these sessions, no idea is a bad one.

5. Staff Your Weaknesses. We all have areas we’re not good at. Some are more creative than others, some more musical, some more organized and detailed. Your children’s ministry will thrive if you learn to staff the areas you’re not good at and listen to the people who are good in those areas.

6. Cast the Vision. As the leader of children’s ministry, it’s your job to cast the vision God has given you for the future of the children’s ministry and communicate it to your team. Once your team knows the vision, they can run with it.

7. Spend Time Praying With Your Team. Pray develops bonds with your team that nothing else can. Spend time praying with your team about issues in their lives and about the children’s ministry.

8. Give Your Team Resources For Growth. Give your team opportunities to grow by providing books, workshops, and conferences. You might even want to study a book together as a team.

9. Be Vulnerable and Accountable. As a leader, you need prayer support and accountability. If you share your concerns with members of your team, they’ll be able to pray with you and hold you accountable in the areas you need help. A bit of caution here. Get to know your team before sharing too much. Unfortunately there are people in the church who use vulnerabilities of leaders to come against them. Use wisdom here.

10. Pray For the Right Team. Pray for God to lead you to the people He wants on your team. He may surprise you with choices you never expected.

10 Great Tips For Children’s Minsitry Team Meetings

Here’s some ideas to change a boring Children’s Ministry Team meeting that conveys information you could email to your team members into a great meeting your team won’t want to miss.

1. Plan Agenda:  This shouldn’t even have to be said, but plan the agenda for your meeting, and have all the resources you need ready to go. A meeting that wastes time is sure to have few attendees.

2. Play Creative Games:  There are three reasons for this. First it will add fun and excitement to your meetings. Second it will promote unity and team building skills. Last it will get the creative juices flowing to make your meeting more productive. Invest in a book of games to bolster creativity. Here’s one idea. Have everyone write twenty ways a cat and a refrigerator are alike.

3. Stay Focused:  Sometimes a member of your team will go off on rabbit trails that have nothing to do with your agenda. Politely keep the meeting focused by waiting until that person takes a breath and then saying “Okay, let’s get back to the next item.” If you allow the meeting to follow those bunny trails, at the end of the day, it will have accomplished nothing.

4. Pray:  Take time at the beginning of your meetings to pray for each other and for wisdom.

5. Allow Member’s Imput:  If a children’s ministry team meeting is only to inform your team what you’ve decided and what you want them to do, then your team is not a team. You’re treating them more like employees. If this is your purpose in having meetings, save everyone some time and email them the info. A great team gives imput and helps the children’s ministry grow with their ideas. Allow time in your meeting for your team to give imput.

6. Problem Solving:  Let your meetings be a safe place for team members to bring up problems. Then use the team to find solutions to these problems.

7. Cast the Vision: At every meeting, take a few minutes to remind your team about the vision God has given you for the children’s ministry. Team members will be more effective if they know the vision.

8. Encourage Only:  Never use children’s ministry team meetings as a time to address concerns with team members. This should only be done in private. Meeting should be a time to encourage your team.

9. Leadership Training:  Children’s Ministry meetings are a great time to have a few minutes of leadership training. Keep it short and to the point. This is a meeting not a training session. But encouraging growth is always a great idea. One suggestion is to study a book together. On Friday, I’ll list a number of leadership books to chose from.

10. Share Information:  Always take a couple of minutes to allow team members to share information. A team member may know something about a child that will help you minister. Another team member might know somebody who wants to work in children’s ministry and is just waiting to be asked.