3 Helpful Habits On How To Lead Teams As A Family Pastor
Over the last decade, one of the encouraging developments within ministry has been the growth of family ministry (or Next Gen) teams. I grew up in an era that often saw each arm of the church functioning independently of one another. Children’s ministry and student ministry both served families in the community, but not always with cohesion.
Those involved in either ministry might rarely have any interaction or significant understanding of how each group contributed to the church body as a whole. As a result, ministry was more like living on separate islands instead of deeply rooted and interconnected communities.
But many churches today have rightly recognized the need for the hands and feet of Jesus to work with greater harmony and clarity of purpose. The goal? To ensure that the most critical area of discipleship, the home, remains Christ-centered and Commission-minded.
The Role of Family Pastor
The very reason you’re reading this article may be because you’ve been charged with the task of leading a team at your church to accomplish such a goal. If so, be encouraged: your role is unique and vital to the health and future of your congregation.
I recently transitioned to the role of Family Pastor at our church after serving nearly fifteen years in student ministry. My primary purpose is to provide direction for all our leaders from Preschool through College & Young Adults.
This shift in responsibility and ministry structure has been a welcome challenge for both our church and me. So, as a fellow Family Pastor, allow me to suggest a few lessons I’ve learned thus far in my journey.
First, a disclaimer: These are by no means words of an expert. There’s much I have yet to learn, but that’s the beautiful part about Kingdom living. We’re not in this alone. We can learn from the experiences of others. God wants that which He’s done in our lives to spill over to the lives of others walking beside us, as well as those who will come after us (2 Timothy 2:2). To that end, here are 3 helpful habits I’ve learned throughout my transition into the role of Family Pastor.
1) DIG AROUND. Evaluate the current health of your church family.
When you’re on the frontlines of any given ministry area, it can be tough to gauge your church’s overall health and effectiveness. The demands of who or what is directly in front of you often keep you immersed in day-to-day interactions.
As a Family or Next Gen Pastor, you have the benefit of capturing a bird’s eye view of how things are going on the ground.
For me, once I was no longer charged with the task of leading from the stage each week, I was able to invest more time with those in our congregation. This allowed me to learn more about our families, our surrounding community, and how to minister to both effectively.
Hold your church up to the mirror of God’s Word and ask Him to shine a light on any areas that need attention. As James writes, 23 “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (James 2:23-24, NIV)
Questions to ask:
Throughout the year, consider these questions for yourself, your team, and your church…
- What are currently some of the most effective aspects of our ministry?
- How do our methods or programs help us accomplish our mission?
- What new opportunities have arisen in our church family or community?
- Are there any needs being neglected?
2) CHECK-IN. Maintain regular connections with your ministry team.
When preparing for my new role at our church, I remember asking a friend of mine for advice. He had already experienced a similar transition in ministry, so I was curious what the role of Family Pastor or Next Gen Leader looked like at his church.
His immediate response? “Meetings. Lots of meetings with those on our frontlines.”
He then quickly explained the importance of maintaining a consistent line of communication with those providing direct leadership to primary ministries of the church.
Of course, this looks different from church to church. If you have a team composed solely of volunteers, it may be difficult to meet with leaders during the workweek.
On the other hand, your team may be so large and spread out, your ability to schedule regular meetings with individuals may feel more like a chess match.
Regardless of where you may fall on that spectrum, you can’t downplay the importance of trust and connection shared amongst those on your ministry team.
The Apostle Paul reminded the divided and distracted Corinthian church, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12, NIV)
The pace of ministry can keep us moving so quickly that if we don’t pause long enough to carve out time to sit with those serving alongside us, we drift towards isolation instead of collaboration.
Members of your team that constantly pour themselves out into others each week must be ministered to as well. Often their service in the church can prevent them from connecting with others. Be sure to help your team stay connected and encouraged to the rest of the church family.
One of the most important roles you play as a Family Pastor is to shepherd those that serve alongside you. Be sure your team knows that you value them for who they are, not just because of what they do.
When we are intentional in how we meet, a two-way connection is established: you to your leaders, and your leaders to you. This helps keep both the purpose and people of your church family in clear view.
Questions to Ask:
When meeting with your team (individually or collectively), tackling agendas, or addressing organizational questions, don’t forget to learn the following…
- What are his/her spiritual gifts, and how do they use them to build up your church body?
- What aspects of his/her personality profile are key to remember so that you can effectively equip and encourage him/her? (e.g., Love Language, Communication styles, Enneagram number)
- How can you pray for them? And be sure to pray with them.
- In what ways can you encourage him/her throughout the year?
3) LOOK FORWARD. Develop plans while vigilantly keeping both your calendar and an understanding of your church’s vision.
Logistically speaking, maintain good stewardship of your calendar, both personally and organizationally.
Learn the rhythms of ministry at your church and determine the most effective way to plan the next season of ministry together.
As we experienced a global pandemic in 2020, this rocked our ability to plan long-term with any degree of certainty. And although your calendar may still include more pencil than ink, the principle remains: prayerfully plan and prepare for the opportunities that God has put on your heart.
And as you do so, be sure to maintain a clear view of how those plans fulfill the primary vision/mission of your church.
This requires you and your team to regularly assess the effectiveness of your programming and the pathway in which you are headed. Tools like calendars and clear vision/mission statements are helpful ways to accomplish this.
I love the Apostle Paul’s declaration to his fellow believers in Philippi, 13 “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-13)
Paul wasn’t dismissing the importance of where he had come from (his past) but was rather declaring his commitment to pressing on towards that which lied before him (his future) – the prize of seeing Jesus.
As we navigate uncertain seasons and ever-changing schedules, ministry teams do well to point their people to Jesus by providing clarity of purpose and consistency in planning for those within their church.
Questions to ask:
Spend time with your Senior Pastor / Leadership Team, ask:
- How can I pray for or encourage you / your family?
- Are there any new or neglected opportunities that need to be discussed?
- In what ways can our Family Ministry Team help fulfill the mission/vision of our church this year?
- Are there any events or programs we need to set aside for the time being?
- Identify which events/programs should be listed on the calendar and communicate plans clearly.
- How frequently does your team need to meet to review/revise what is already on the calendar, as well as what will be added to the calendar?
One final thought.
You’ve likely been given the role of Family Pastor or Team Leader because of the fruitfulness born in your life and ministry up to this point.
So, remember – healthy things (and people) continue to grow. Don’t neglect your own spiritual, physical, or emotional health.
To lead others well, you must be faithful to walk closely with Jesus yourself.
This does not imply we are in any way superior to those we serve alongside or that we are pursuing the myth of perfection. Rather, it is our daily awareness that we must walk in a way that inspires others to come along for the journey.
Nick Mobley has served in student ministry for 20 years and currently serves as Family Pastor at Northside Baptist in middle TN. His passion is helping families show and share their faith from house to house. He and his wife Courtney have 3 children, Samuel, Sophia, & Asa. They love ice cream, the outdoors, and think that Dauphin Island, Alabama, is one of the coolest places to spend a vacation. You can reach Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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