The Two Most Difficult Ministry Roles to Fill

Based on phone calls and emails from pastors and friends looking for staff members, the two most difficult roles to fill on a church staff are (1) a kids ministry director/pastor and (2) a groups director/pastor. Churches seem to be having a difficult time finding the right leaders for these critical roles. The numerous inquires have been both encouraging and concerning:

Why the inquiries encourage me:

  • Church leaders are thinking strategically about these two essential ministries.
  • Churches wanting a kids ministry leader to lead a ministry that disciples kids in the Word, and not merely entertains or babysits, speaks to the health of those churches. We need kids ministries that desire heart transformation, not childcare or behavioral modification.
  • Churches taking their groups ministry seriously, and wanting the right leader, is an indication of their understanding that people must be in biblical community—that having people merely come to a weekend worship service is insufficient in disciple-making. Without a healthy groups ministry, churches may attract but they will not attach people to one another in community.

Why the inquiries concern me:

  • There seems to be a scarcity of leaders in these two roles. And a lack of strong leaders in these two areas of ministry has major implications for the health of our churches.
  • We need more leaders in these two areas, and the shortage is evidence of a greater and broader leadership development problem.
  • If scarcity equates with value, then perhaps the church at large doesn’t see kids and groups ministry as valuable. Plato stated, “What is celebrated is cultivated.” Are we not celebrating the importance of these two ministries enough, so as to cultivate a desire among more leaders to serve in these two areas?

Some churches are choosing to solve this problem by hiring from within the church. They hire someone who has proven character, knows their culture, is a great leader, and is passionate for either kids or groups. Their thinking is “we need a gifted leader, and we can train them in the mechanics of church ministry.”

If you choose to hire someone new to church staff, we would love to help in his or her development. We offer a “kids ministry beta” and a “groups ministry beta” for new staff members. We spend several days with a small group of leaders (invitation only), helping them think through their ministry philosophy and practice. If you would like more information, you can email my assistant at