A Letter to Senior Pastors
To Senior Pastors,
You may be wondering why should you allow your children’s pastor to go on this “un”-conference – when for the same funds you could send them to some other conference without the “un” in front of it? Why should you grant a staff member the time and the limited resources to go hiking around the woods when there will be no workshops, no exhibit hall, and no famous speaker to fill them up with the latest in ideas, resources or training?
First of all, you might want to consider what might happen if you don’t. Have you considered the cost of burn out or failure from a leader running on empty? Are you aware that the average length of time a children’s pastor lasts at a church is three to four years? Why is this? The demands of the job are incredible. A leader who is burning out will eventually crash land. You can help prevent this by allowing them to refresh and renew before it comes to that. Compared to any other staff position (other than yours, of course!) there are more classes and positions to fill, more volunteers to recruit and maintain and more responsibility than any other staff position in the church. Plus, there are children and parents to minister to in addition to the volunteers – as well as all the legal and administrative issues. It is an incredibly demanding job. Few truly appreciate how demanding the position of children’s pastor/director is.
Secondly, most children’s ministry leaders get very little time off. Due to the nature of their job, they have meetings or programs or get calls to fill in the gaps nearly every night of the week and have set up and other emergencies even on weekends. It is a thankless and time-consuming job. They usually don’t complain about this, as it’s their passion and calling – but it is an extremely draining and exhausting occupation. And while the typical children’s ministry conference can be energizing and exciting, it also means more work to implement what they learn and discover at those events!
Thirdly, what suffers the most, too often, in a children’s minister’s life is their very walk with God. They don’t mean to let it happen, but slowly, over time – it can happen. (You know this is true, because it has happened to you.) Because so much time is spent in prayer for the ministry, less time can be spent in personal prayer. Because so much time in spent in the Word preparing for ministry, less time is spent in the Word for personal growth. Because they work for God for the sake of the ministry, they spend less time simply abiding with Christ simply as a child soaking up His presence for His sake. They become a “human dong” busy for God, and less a “human being” simply enjoying God’s company. They can look like they are “doing OK” when they are actually feeling far away from God and starving spiritually.
The best thing you can do to invest in your church’s children’s ministry is to help it’s leader by giving them what they need most – a week away from the ministry where they can reconnect with God and rediscover why they are in ministry in the first place. They probably don’t need any new ideas or resources right now. You hired them because they know all that. They already have access to the places where they can find those things, don’t they? What they need most is to have the flame you saw when you hired them rekindled keep within them. If you want to see them on fire for Christ and for the children of your ministry like never before – release them to go to Yosemite Summit and they will be changed.
I’ve seen dramatic change in the men who have come with me to Yosemite. We don’t just hike around. I take the men through a time-tested specific and intentional journey during the four days we are in Yosemite. Each day is purposeful and focused. It is not just aimless “hanging out” but rich fellowship with guided discussions, prayer, scripture reading and reflections that have the power to transform these men at the deepest level – in ways that will have a profound influence on the depth of ministry they lead when they return to your church.
They will come back a new man. They will be a better husband, a better father – and as a result, a better minister. You know the old saying, “If you let something go, it will come back. If you hold on to it, you will lose it for good.” If your children’s pastor is asking to go to Yosemite Summit, it is because they realize they need it. Don’t deny them what they need. They will be grateful to you for allowing them to go, and that gratitude will earn you loyalty that will pay dividends for years to come.
A wise senior pastor looks out for what his staff needs as a person – not just what will benefit the ministry. And when they do so, the ministry benefits as well. Its a win-win for everyone involved. Yosemite Summit is an investment in the man as well as in your ministry. If you’d like to talk to me about it, contact me and I will reply with my cell phone number and be happy to talk to you more about it and answer any questions you may have.
Pastor Karl Bastian
Founder Yosemite Summit