This year, I went crazy for the Winter Olympics. I kept up with the medal count, put events on DVR, learned crazy Russian names, and yes, even watched curling. The Olympics are a fascinating event, but as I learned more about the way Olympians are timed I found great parallels to children’s and family ministry.
Precision – The timing officials brought 220 tons of equipment to Vancouver, along with a team of 650 people (including 400 volunteers) to keep official time of the events. The margin for error is virtually zero with these precise timing instruments, even those that measure distance.
Simple – Part of the reason why such precise timepieces are needed is to declare a winner. However there is another reason why these instruments are necessary. They allow fans and television viewers to understand what is happening in the events themselves. Herein the complicated is made simple. Officials used GPS in cross country events to record the location of each competitor five times per second (making it easy to determine their speed and relay it to the viewer).
Smart – This year there was a new technology in the skiing events. The starting gate used the energy built up by the athlete at the top of the hill and activated a generator that powered the timing device.
Resilient – The equipment is designed to handle temperatures of 30 degrees below zero and still operate at 100%.
To what degree of precision is my children’s ministry operating? I’m not talking about timing, since our ministry is subject to the adult services timing and the random pickup times of parents. But how precise are the things I can control? The video pieces, sets, lighting, curriculum, or communication?
How simple is your ministry? When I first started in children’s ministry, I thought that the best thing to do was to create four or five new ministries under my leadership. Worship teams, 4th-5th grade discipleship, Kids Choir, and Special Events – these were all good things, but they overcomplicated the ministry for families.
How clever are you getting with your budget? This is budget prep season in my ministry context. I am always thinking of ways to use resources more wisely. How can I capture the momentum of things already in place to resource ministry (akin to the starting gate using the athlete’s momentum at the top of the hill to power the timepiece)?
How much are you handling? As leaders, we are built to resist a certain degree of pressure. If you are reaching the top of your pressure gauge, it’s time to talk to someone and get the support you need. I am always taking account of the things I agree to, and I just came to the point (with the help of my amazing wife) where I need to cut things back because I will not be able to operate at 100% if the ministry and parachurch responsibilities increase.