It’s easy to get weighed down by the day-to-day tasks of ministry. I’ve seen dozens of us work early and late hours, make ministry happen, and neglect ourselves and our families. Meanwhile, our ministry work is barely appreciated and very much expected; people are quicker to criticize than applaud. After a few weeks of this, naturally, we begin to feel like a victim rather than a champion.

The good news is that it is entirely within our power to change the story. I’m not saying it’s easy, especially when you’re feeling burned and burned out. However, there are some things you can do to make sure that your ministry is recognized for what is being accomplished rather than what is lacking. What I’m about to share with you is not an instant solution, so if you choose to change the story, you’re going to have to commit to trusting the process and have a little patience while things slowly shift. 

Here are three action steps you can begin doing today that will change how people see you and the ministry you’re leading.

Communicate up. Don’t wait until your church leadership asks you for a report to give them information. A simple weekly email will keep your successes and challenges front and center, and keep them in the know when church members ask them, “Hey, what’s going on in the _______ ministry?” 

Here’s a simple, stress-free way to accomplish this. It shouldn’t take you more than five minutes per week and will reap great benefits for you.

  1. Decide who needs the information. I would always choose the lead pastor, the governing body (elders, session, council), and whoever you report directly to.
  2. Send a weekly email with the following information:
    1. Weekly attendance.
    2. Something you’re celebrating. (this can be a new volunteer, a visitor, a child learning the memory verse, or volunteers arriving on time)
    3. A problem you’re solving. It’s important that these leaders know that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in your ministry. Ask them to pray or just let them know that you’re working on overcoming the obstacle.
    4. Events coming up in the next few weeks. Your church leadership can’t support you if they don’t know what you’re doing. Additionally, each of them have friends and neighbors who they might invite to your event. Plus, you are less likely to be pulled into additional work if everyone knows you’re working on upcoming projects.

Celebrate the wins publicly. I mentioned celebrating wins weekly to your leadership, but it’s also important to share with your other audiences when things are going well. Give the congregation something to talk about!

  • Did you have record attendance on the first Sunday after the new year? Ask the congregation to pray for all the families who attended. 
  • Do you have a seasoned volunteer who is making a difference? Let the church know that you’re grateful. 
  • Is a new family finding their place in your ministry? Highlight them to members.

Share the vision. Continually remind the congregation and the community why you’re doing what you’re doing. Take every opportunity to paint the picture of the growing faith that you’re cultivating in students, or the welcome feeling you’re creating for visitors. Whatever your end goal, make sure that people understand what you’re doing and why.

  • Teach your team the language of your vision and emphasize it each week. Include it in meetings, weekly communication, and casual conversations so they can’t help but use it in their casual conversations. 
  • Use signage and social media to communicate your why to the congregation and community.
  • Intentionally share the vision with other influential people who will pray for you and talk up the ministry.
    • Know someone in the choir? Ask them to share an update from time to time about your ministry.
    • Are you in the choir and know a mission trip leader? Ask the mission team to exchange prayer requests so each group is praying for the other – on purpose.

These ideas will not dramatically reshape the culture of your community overnight. But I believe you will see some changes quickly, especially when you start sending that weekly report. You’ll start to notice that your ministry is getting noticed by the church leadership in a more positive light.

Commit to six months of intentionally sharing your vision, celebrating wins, and communicating up and see what happens. After taking these steps, I would love to hear what has happened! When you ask for support, when you present your 2024 budget, and when you just need some grace, I believe you will notice a difference in response because you told the story of your ministry in a different way.

Annette Safstrom
Director of Marketing

Annette fell in love with children’s ministry in the 1980s and has never looked back. After graduating from Bible college in 1991 with a certification in children’s ministry, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University, and a Master’s from SMU. Over the years, she has consistently served in various roles in the church from volunteer to director of children’s ministry. Annette has been a member of the Ministry Architects team since January of 2012, and co-authored Sustainable Children’s Ministry with Mark DeVries in January of 2018. She loves to share the joy of children’s ministry with others through workshops, trainings, and national conferences. She lives in McKinney, TX with her husband Kevin, and their two children, and enjoys traveling, cooking, and writing.

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