Three Steps to Combating Power Struggles in Children’s Ministry

Melissa Miller's picture

Power Struggles are as old as The Fall. In Genesis 2, the man and his wife worked as a team, one unit working together in trusting teamwork: the ideal for every children’s ministry to aspire.

Only a few verses later, everything has changed. Man and wife have sinned, and the Lord pronounces the consequences of their actions.

“To the Woman He said:….You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.” (Genesis 3:16). Four verses later, we see the first evidence of this phenomenon: “The man named his wife Eve….” (Genesis 3:20) .

Verse 20 is often glossed over. Its significance is often missed.

The Man had already given his wife a name.

Woman.

Now, after The Fall, after The Lord pronounces what their lives will be like, the Man’s sinful nature is first exhibited. Though “Adam” means “Man”, he is no longer satisfied with “Woman” as His wife’s name. He changes His wife’s name.

This is not a minor footnote—everywhere else in Scripture, to give a person a name is to pronounce one’s authority or control over that person.  We have all  proven ourselves to be children of our first parents---emulating their compulsions to control and to dominate others. Even within the Church.

What can believers do to combat this problem within the Church, and more specifically, within their own children’s ministries?

First, staff should pray for others within the ministry. It is very difficult to attempt to control another person when you are regularly and genuinely praying for that person. God will honor your faithfulness and re-mold your thoughts so that you see that individual as the Lord sees him or her.

  • Pray that the Lord will show you a way to show lovingkindness to that individual.
  • Pray for that person’s spiritual walk with the Lord.
  • If the person is an unbeliever, pray for the individual’s salvation.

Second, staff should confess any prejudices they may carry against others in the ministry. Unnecessary conflicts may arise when one or more staff members are prejudiced against other staff members or volunteers in their ministry. In some churches, the gifts female staff members or volunteers possess is not valued—their input is not desired or is downplayed, if accepted. The Enemy—master strategian that he is—realizes that if he can keep factions of the church vying for power and authority, instead of serving one another and loving one another, he will fight against a weakened church.

  • Ask the Lord to open your eyes to better help you understand someone with a differing cultural or ethnic background who works or volunteers in your ministry.
  • Encourage brothers and sisters in the faith to further develop their spiritual gifts.
  • Do not downplay the input of others on your team who are of the opposite sex. 

Third, staff should treat everyone on their team with respect and dignity. Matthew 7:12 certainly applies here—“In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the Law and the Prophets”. Gossips will use their words to sew up dissension and discord—and when the victim of gossip feels powerless to stop him or her, that individual will be more likely to want to control or “pull one over” on the one gossiping.

  • Have an anti-gossip policy in your department.
  • Be consistent in applying the policy; do not show favoritism.
  • Train your staff and volunteers on joining you in discouraging gossip.
  • Show them what the Scripture says about gossip (examples: 1 Timothy 5:13; Proverbs 11:13; 16:28; 18:8, 20:19 and 26:20-22).  

These three steps will assist you in making your children’s ministry a healthier, more God honoring ministry. May the Lord richly bless you as you seek to honor Him.

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