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I can’t remember a more stressful time in the life of our Family Ministry at Grace Community Church than when we crossed over the 500 mark in weekly attendance as a church. We were running 2 services every week, we were moving into a new facility with tons of fresh potential, and we were full of ideas about what the future would look like. In the midst of all this excitement we were understaffed, needed to add volunteers quickly, and were all tired. We had to make some critical decisions as we navigated this season of our ministry. I am so thankful for the team of leaders that helped us find stability in this time of growth and for our senior pastors that believed in investing in families. We made it through because we began to think differently about the way we served families and planned for the future. Here are some critical moves that had to be made as we faced the stress of growth…

  • Establish a Preschool Ministry Team >> preschool ministry is not and will never be the same as ministry for K-5th grade kids! When you hit the 500 mark you better distinguish these ministries and begin to define the goals of preschool ministry. When we hit 500 we empowered an amazing volunteer to be the preschool director and by the time we were running 850 as a church we had a full time preschool director on staff. A healthy preschool ministry sets the course for everything to come in your family ministry. Growth demands dedicated leadership that will serve preschool families and lead preschool volunteers.
  • Empower Volunteer Leadership >> when we hit the 500 mark we were forced to multiply and give leadership responsibility to volunteer staff. We gave leadership roles to people running large group, gathering supplies, leading our family production, and training volunteers. This process continues on today but it was even more critical when we hit 500. We could not afford to pay staff and our team leaders helped us move forward as we looked for new staff.
  • Focus >> when we hit 500 we had to say no often in order to allow our ministry team to focus. If you want your family ministry to excel decide what you do the best and focus on what matters most. You can’t do everything. Don’t feel pressure to add EXTRA when you can’t do what matters the most week to week.
  • Plan to add staff >> Once your church hits the 500 mark you must begin to plan how and when you will add staff. I joined our staff as the Family / Student Pastor right when we passed the 500 mark. From that moment on we have been working with our senior leadership at GCC to plan how and when we add staff. Your team has to decide how you use part-time and full-time staff. One full time staff member can do the work of 3 to 4 part-time leaders. Adding staff will be a boost to your ability to empower more volunteers and reach families.
  • Invest in your volunteers and staff >> when you cross the 500 mark you have to be more intentional about investing in both volunteers and staff. Provide training times for volunteers. Make time to say thanks. Work hard to balance schedules for volunteers so they stay fresh. Provide staff and key volunteers time to hit a conference every year.

If you are out there and are facing the pains of growth please listen to me. Make a plan, work hard, empower other leaders, and trust God. The worst thing you can do is ignore reality. Without some intentional leadership nothing will improve. You are the leader…set the course and invite people to join you on the journey.