This blog is the beginning of a series about the “Three Leadership Arts Essential to Children’s Ministry”
Patterns and Wisdom
Patterns simplify things. They show repetition which enables one to predict what comes next. The predictive nature of a pattern is something we teach children at the earliest ages. You see it in preschool handouts and in elementary-aged math. Recognizing patterns is important because they allow us to adapt to the unpredictable. Additionally, they allow us to look from results back to the source to then draw logical conclusions about what it took to get from point A to point B.
We draw truth from patterns everyday. We are shaped by them in ways we are not even aware. Collectively, we call decisions based on patterns wisdom. Wisdom, however, stems from God’s Word. We see this in Proverbs 2:
“For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
or he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.”
Wisdom comes from the Lord. I believe God grants wisdom to those who have seen things played out over and over and then have chosen those paths which lead to the desired effect… and have veered away from those which do not.
We are wise, then, when we take heed of patterns which lead to success and employ them to our benefit. What are the patterns we should apply to successfully lead children to Christ? How do you find these patterns; where do you begin your journey as a leader?
About four years ago I was blessed to have God lead me to create a free social network for those called to serve in Children’s Ministry. In a matter of weeks, CMConnect.org quickly became a network of over 1,000 members. Four years later, there are over 9,100 members from over 110 countries.
Being at the center of this network allowed me to learn from a vastly diverse number of people called to Children’s Ministry. I invested myself in thousands of conversations via blogs and forum discussions. These conversations changed everything about my ministry.
Early in the formation of the community, I remember seeing certain patterns evolve. At first they were topical; then, they became sub-topical as people drilled down into deeper truths. Members questioned basic assumptions about what it means to minister to children. Do you need puppets? Is flannel board valid? Are clowns really scary? Can men serve in Children’s Ministry?
Not once did the conversation delve into denominational-based arguments we see at the root of so many church splits. I expected it to happen. I had some friends who warned me to watch out for it. On the contrary, a noteworthy pattern emerged. There is unity in the hearts of those called to serve children in ministry. I think this is uniquely profound and worth celebrating.
I almost missed it; but, God did something incredible a little over a year ago. On a flight to Sacramento, California I fell asleep while journaling. I had just accepted my role as Executive Director of the International Network of Children’s Ministry (INCM) and had been reading and praying about the core things at the center of our calling. I was searching for patterns. I woke up as we were descending over the mountains, and I can only describe it this way, God inspired me to write. What I wrote that day evolved into a 100-day conversation about the concepts central to succeeding in ministering to children.