by Brandy Barr
About 2 ½ years ago I moved from the children’s ministry team to the student ministry team at the church I am on staff at in Austin, Texas. I love our children’s ministry team. The pastor and her staff introduced the Orange concept to our church and implemented First Look and 252 Basics. Kids thrived, and parents felt engaged. But as soon as a child was promoted from elementary to middle school, things changed. A different methodology of teaching was used. It was always high quality curriculum, but something was missing.
That is, until 2013. Last year, our children’s and student ministry leaders joined together, using Orange’s XP3 Students curriculum and resources to help lead and train our volunteers. This was so exciting because we finally had a way that could lead our children consistently and carefully from birth through 12th grade. While we are still learning and growing and have many goals and dreams that we need to implement with time, we see and hear God at work every day.
So, what does a ministry partnership look like? Here are a few examples of its benefits:
1) Meet and Pray together – Last month, I was sitting at the Orange Tour in Austin, Texas, and Reggie Joiner asked who represented the churches that were there. He asked if there were children’s ministers and youth pastors from the same church at the conference. I think two people stood up. I was proud to say we were one of them. One thing that is very important is that you meet as one team. You talk about each other’s needs and how you can pray for each other’s ministry. This helps break down all barriers. We are not in competition. There is no discussion about budgets or building space. We are here as the church to help our children, students, parents and leaders to know, love and serve Jesus Christ. This helps keep everything in perspective.
2) Volunteers – When you partner together, your mindset of your volunteers will change. The Small Group Leader who has the opportunity to invest in the life of a child can now carry that out ’til the student graduates. If they start as a Small Group Leader in first grade they have the ability to move with them all the way to the 12th grade. Just think what an impact that would make on a child. For instance, my son’s Small Group Leader started with him in 3rd grade. He is now in 7th grade and he is still leading his group. He knows that he can call on his leader at any time. There is trust, unity and dependability. I love that!
3) Serve – This is huge! Our students serve in our children’s ministry. We mobilize over 120 students weekly. This happens in many different ways. From working with three-year-olds, to being a Small Group Leader assistant, to volunteering for special events or as greeter on a Saturday night. We want them serving as much as possible. This creates an “other’s rather than me” mindset, further reinforcing the DNA of our church.
Remember, it takes time and no one is perfect. But I can attest to the power of true ministry partnership—because we see its impact in the lives of our staff, students and volunteers.
Brandy Barr – Teams Leader for ACFstudents at Austin Christian Fellowship. Football mom. I heart Nicaragua. Laughter heals the soul. Matthew 6:33. Austin, Texas.