The professional position of a preschool and/or children’s minister is a multi-faceted opportunity. In some churches this position will be set up for a professional minister to lead out in all ministries to children and their families from birth to 5th or 6th grade. In some other churches the scope of the position will be limited to only preschool or only elementary. In the vast majority of churches when they use the term children (in conjunction with preschool) they are referring to elementary children.
This position (as all church staff positions) serves as an extension of the office of the senior pastor. The senior pastor is not expected to understand all the intricacies that go along with being the primary minister leading out in areas of children. This is where the Preschool/Children’s Minister position comes into play. This ministry position is the advocate for, leader of, and vision caster for all things pertaining to children and their families
The responsibility that is included in this ministry position can be daunting, but, rewarding and very important to the ministry of the church. Many see the primary responsibility of making sure that there are volunteers and/or workers in each room for all church activities so the families can leave the children in a safe and secure environment while they go and do adult spiritual things. In reality, the responsibilities are so much bigger than just that.
The biggest responsibility for this position is to be a vision caster for the ministry. Much of the church will view, albeit subconsciously, the ministry as baby sitting for the most part. It is the responsibility of the Preschool/Children’s Minister to dispel that myth and cast a larger vision of discipleship that begins with babies and continues for life. If this responsibility is handled correctly it will help in all other responsibilities.
Other responsibilities that come up on a weekly basis would indeed being sure that all rooms for children have trained and competent spiritual leaders as teachers in them. Part of that staffing responsibility is selecting curriculum and program directions for the best outcome with the children. Leading these volunteers and staff teams is a large responsibility. One must understand that they can’t accomplish all that needs to be done by themselves and build a strong team around them.
In relation to children and families the Preschool/Children’s Minister is responsible to build relationships with the children and their families. The level of that relationship will determine the success or failure of the ministry. The trust that is needed from this group of people is what will ignite and encourage the minister or the lack of it will discourage them. This all comes from strong relationships.
Finally, the biggest responsibility grows out of all these others and that is to be sure that the Gospel is shared with every child and every family before they move on from your ministry area. We can have all the relationships and great curriculum but if we don’t share the Gospel with them it is all in vain.
Preparation is an ongoing and varied process. In Preschool/Children’s Ministry many professional ministers started as Sunday School teachers or weekday employees and move into more fully professional roles as time goes along. To best prepare to be the best minister in this area it is suggest that one pursue education. A bachelor’s degree in a related field of child development would be wonderful. Further, adding seminary experience and some solid theological study will both prepare a minister and give them confidence in speaking as a minister.
Other preparation would be more practical including shadowing an experienced minister and allowing them to mentor you. Networking with other preschool and/or children’s ministers will teach one so very much. This will lead to many opportunities. Basically, the best preparation is to jump in at your local church and begin ministering to children where you are.
The area of professional and full-time ministers in the preschool and children’s areas is one of the fastest growing ministry areas in our churches. Many churches are now realizing the importance of reaching the most reachable and discipling them before they make poor choices. This makes the opportunities endless for those committed to a life time of next gen ministry through preschool and children’s ministry.
These positions are filled by individual churches and each has their own way of doing so. Many churches simply take the recommendation of the senior pastor or minister of education and vet them through the standing personnel committee. However, more churches seem to be going the way of drawing a special committee together to go through resumes and candidates in order to recommend a candidate to the church at large. The best way to seek placement is through a seminary placement office, associational connections, state convention placement office and particularly through the preschool/children’s point person for each state convention. Networking is the key in all placements.
Those with training and experience in preschool and/or children’s ministry will find many related occupations open to them. Many will end up pursuing teaching certification and teach in church weekday programs or in public or private schools. In those same settings most directors of these learning institutions will have a background in preschool and children’s ministry. Other related occupations would be recreation and child development officers in a public park system. A new related occupation that is growing is the role of Child Life Specialist in a hospital setting and related to that is the role of pediatric mental health counselors. Truly the related occupation are wide and opening to one who is committed and prepared.