Would you rather have a million dollars today, or a penny doubled every day for 30 days? Think about it. The instant gratification of a million dollars is pretty tempting, right? How much value does a penny really have anyways? If you saw one lying on the ground, you’d probably walk right by it. 

A penny on its own can seem pretty worthless. BUT a penny added to another penny to another penny can add up quicker than you probably think. For those of you who have the self-control to pass up a million dollars, and the patience to wait the 30 days for your pennies to double, you’d walk out of here with $5,368,709.12. Pretty amazing how something so small and insignificant, when you compound it over time, can result in something quite large and valuable! Now those pennies seem to matter a little bit more, don’t they?


Image Source: http://www.investopedia.com

The smallest things we do can actually have the biggest results over time. As a Small Group Leader, or really any volunteer in Kids Ministry, you may feel like your weeks serving are equivalent to pennies. But we want you to start connecting the small to the big. Because it takes a lot of small steps to make big things happen, and WHAT YOU DO MATTERS more than you probably think it does.

When Brad and I were first married, we rented a small house in Cincinnati for a short time. Thankfully it was only for a couple years because it had quite a lot of… “character.” When the wind blew outside, the curtains would move on the inside of the house because the windows were so poorly insulated. The wood on the back porch was rotting out so we had to be really careful with our step. The bathroom had this really awesome pink bathtub. It wasn’t great, but we lived with all those things because we were renting temporarily and it wasn’t our house. We didn’t feel the need to invest any of our money in it. That was someone else’s responsibility, not ours.

But, now we have a home of our own that we love and cherish. We are raising our kids there and plan to live there long-term. We’ve even named the house. So we make different choices now when it comes to upgrades, because we are the owners. We are investing more, which costs us more, but in the long run we are increasing its value and making it more comfortable, enjoyable, and rewarding to live in.

Owners know they will need to invest more along the way, which will cost more, but they’ll get a bigger return on their investment.

The same principle applies to serving in Kids Ministry.

Now, a lot of Owners start out as Renters and that’s ok! It’s a great place to start, in fact, sometimes Renting during various stages of life is the best option. But the great news is, when it comes to serving, regardless of your credit score or financial situation, every volunteer can become an Owner! We’ve found that those who maintain a Renters mentality in their role don’t tend to stick around long and miss out on many valuable benefits of serving. Our goal in Kids Min is to see everyone on our team taking steps toward Ownership no matter where you fall on that spectrum right now.  

I think there are SIX areas Owners see a greater return on their investment than those who are Renters. Although growing in your ownership in each of these areas seems like a small investment, these actions yield a great reward for you and those you serve. These areas can be developed over time with intention, so let’s take a look at what that looks like for a Small Group Leader.

The first area is TIME. Owners see time invested, not just time lost.

One of our primary goals for small group leaders is to build relationships, because as you spend time with the same kids week after week, you build trust and create opportunities for kids to process their faith and take next steps. That’s why we require the small group team to serve at least 2-3x a month, because we have found that it’s more difficult to develop skills and relationships to point elementary kids to Jesus if we’re seldomly serving. Minimum involvement leads to minimum impact. Showing up regularly and frequently at this stage is more important than ever. When you’re only focusing on what you are losing, you may never realize how much there is to gain. Attending one and serving one might be the most valuable way you can spend that time each week.

Owners see time invested, not just time lost.

The next area that can be developed is EFFORT. Owners give their best effort, not just enough.

When it comes to EFFORT, Renters do just enough to feel involved, but not enough to ever really be connected. You can’t build relationships with people you aren’t around, so the more effort you put into serving consistently and engaging with the people around you, the more likely you’ll be connected. Arriving early gives you the flexibility to connect with parents and kids. If you arrive at the same time as the kids, you miss out on that opportunity. Showing up prepared and ready to go with the lesson allows you to focus on the kids from the moment you arrive, and have more fun and meaningful discussions with them. Attending Team Pow-Wows gives you the chance to celebrate and have fun with others who are serving alongside you, and communicate with leaders as you develop your skills together. When you put more into your role, you’re more likely to get more out of it. Your level of effort makes a difference, and kids know when people genuinely care, prepare, and want to be there.

Owners give their best effort, not just enough.

The third characteristic is FOCUS. Owners see WE > ME.

Renters have an individual mindset– tunnel-vision focused on themselves and their circumstances, while Owners have a team mindset, understanding that we are part of a group that operates best when everyone does their part. Every team member is valuable – YOU are valuable. We talk a lot about the impact you can have when you do show up, but we want you to also consider the impact that happens when you choose not to show up. When someone makes the choice to make their own life easier that morning, the impact of that is someone else’s morning just got a lot harder. We know that emergencies come up, but we need you to understand that when you are scheduled, we are counting on you. When you aren’t there as planned, it forces the team to put energy and focus into coming up with last-minute solutions that makes us less effective at our goals. But when you notify us in advance of vacations or schedule changes, and work together as a team to cover for each other and make sure every Sunday is fully staffed, we are able to focus our energy where it needs to be to allow you to thrive as leaders and for the kids to be cared for in the best way possible. Owners have a team focus.

Owners see WE > ME.

Passion is our fourth characteristic. When it comes to PASSION, Owners get fired up NOT burnt out.

Renters get discouraged frequently and feel like giving up too often and too quickly. Their attitude about serving might drive others away from getting involved. They might be feeling burnt out because they are in a role that isn’t a good fit. If serving one hour a week or less burns you out, then you might not be in the right role. Let us help you find a role that will energize you instead of drain you. Because Owners get fired up about being a part of the mission. They don’t serve because they have to, they serve because they want to, and they serve generously without any expectation of anything in return. We want you to feel empowered to use your time, talents, and abilities for a bigger purpose. We want you to be excited about the opportunity you have to influence the lives of the next generation and get other people excited about investing in kids’ faith journeys, so they want to come serve alongside you.

Owners get fired up NOT burnt out.

The fifth area where we can develop Ownership is GRIT. Grit was once defined for me as Passion + Perseverance. When it comes to GRIT, Renters can’t get past obstacles. They see little things as big challenges and big things as impossible to overcome. They give up when it gets hard. But, Owners find solutions instead of getting stuck.

When you encounter challenges to keeping your commitment, we want you to work through that with us to come up with a solution. When you get frustrated by things you wish were different, we’d love to have a conversation with you about how we can improve. Serving with kids isn’t always easy, right? There are tempting days that we think it would be better for us to stay home and not show up, or let someone else deal with it. Owners know the right thing to do is put others first and keep their commitments, especially when it’s hard. Even though we are showing up to help kids grow in their faith, we often find that through serving that we are the ones developing our faith too. When you push through difficulties, and keep your eyes on the goal, our ministry is only going to get stronger and better.

Owners find solutions instead of getting stuck.

And the final area we can grow on our journey to becoming Owners is in the RESULTS. When it comes to RESULTS, Renters think short-term and look for immediate results, but Owners think long-term and aim for lasting results. Owners prioritize lasting results over immediate results.

One of the biggest challenges we face in Kids Ministry is that we rarely get to see immediate results when it comes to the big things. We may never know the scope of impact that we have on the lives of kids as they get older, but early impressions matter so much. The early years of life, according to the WHO, are crucial in influencing a range of health and social outcomes in a person’s life. Research shows that many challenges in adult society (mental health, obesity, heart disease, illiteracy, criminality) all have roots in early childhood. So how much more is their moral, emotional, relational and spiritual growth impacted at a young age? If we think back ourselves, we probably can’t remember specific lessons we learned as kids, but we can all remember the people who cared for us and were present for us at key times in our lives. God uses people. Kids can’t see God, they can’t see Jesus. But they can see you.

Owners prioritize lasting results over immediate results.

Now doubling pennies seems like an easy concept, but there’s a reason why not everyone does it. It’s harder than it sounds and there are a lot of things that get in the way of doing it. We’re not saying that serving in Kids Ministry is always easy, convenient, or without obstacles, but we want you to start connecting the small to the big and thinking through how you can remove some of those barriers to move toward Ownership.

Paul said it best in 1 Corinthians when he says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Cor 15:58)

Renters only see pennies, but Owners see the 5 million dollars. Owners connect the small things to the big.

Because those small things aren’t pointless. They are actually priceless.

~Northridge Kids Min Kickoff Training 2017



At Water’s Edge

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
― John Lubbock