Faith formation is a life-long process in which people claim their identity as beloved children of God and their call to participate in God’s purposes for the world. This process involves information (what we know), formation (who we are and who we are becoming), and transformation (how the world is changed because of who we are and how we live). A life of faith, then, includes cognitive, emotional, and behavioral dimensions. The effectiveness of this process has an impact on how well a local church fulfills its mission “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” (¶120, The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church).
Aweekday preschool director needs knowledge and skills in several areas in order to be effective:
- Resource development
- Child development
- Relationship building
- Spiritual disciplines
- Setting and meeting goals
- Staff management
- Regulatory bodies
- Safe Sanctuaries®
Some potential staff will already possess many of these skills. Other skills will be developed as a person works in a particular position.
The director must be at least twenty-one (21) years of age with a high school diploma or GED and meet all state and local government, educational, credentialing, and training requirements. Directors are encouraged to complete a minimum of a two-year degree in early childhood education or related field.
The weekday preschool ministry director is committed and willing to support the Christian faith and the vision and mission of The United Methodist Church.
Useful skills for this position are the ability to listen to and communicate with people of all ages; the ability to work with other adults, parents, and guardians, and children.
This leader should show genuine interest in responding to the needs and concerns of children.
Since each weekday preschool ministry program is different, the staffing needs related to the weekday preschool ministry program will also vary. However, there are a number of factors that will affect the successful employment of a staff person. Factors to be considered include realistic job expectations, adequate salary and benefits, continuing education and development, healthy staff relationships, and regular feedback.
The staff-parish relations committee will find a description of its responsibilities related to staff in ¶258.2g of The Book of Discipline. These responsibilities apply to both ordained and lay employees. This document provides additional help for congregations in the process of hiring a weekday preschool ministry director and in evaluating their current staff configuration.
Recommendations for Hiring a Children's Ministry Director
Each church needs a screening process for potential staff people. This process should include a reference check, a criminal background check, a psychological assessment, and a review of the candidate’s social media.
The staff-parish relations committee should provide a written job description. The job description should be used in annual performance reviews and possibly quarterly reviews. It should also be updated whenever a person’s responsibilities are altered.
The weekday preschool ministry director will be attentive and responsive to the nurture, safety, and educational and developmental needs of children in the preschool.
Churches should pay equitably, demonstrating the importance of adult ministries and considering the local economy and the resources of the congregation.
Additional factors to consider include:
- Educational background
- Previous experience
- Full-time versus part-time
- Scope of responsibility
- Local cost of living
Increases in salary should be based on merit and on increases in the cost of living.
Churches can consult with The United Methodist Association of Preschools - Florida and/or Discipleship Ministries to determine current compensation ranges for directors of weekday preschool ministries.
Benefits for full-time positions should include health insurance, continuing education, retirement benefits, and reimbursement of work-related expenses, such as mileage and supplies.
When an ordained clergy person is chosen for one of these positions, the congregation needs to follow the appointment process as described in the appropriate sections of The Book of Discipline.
Supervision and Retention
The director of weekday preschool ministry programs serves as a member of a team. The person’s supervisor should be clearly identified, and the two should meet on a regular basis for prayer, planning, and conversation about the faith formation ministry. Supervisors should be trustworthy, respectful, and collegial.
At a minimum, the staff-parish relations committee should conduct an annual evaluation of the weekday preschool ministry director. The evaluation should be based on the director’s written job description and include documentation of effectiveness and any need for improvement. It can be helpful to schedule quarterly or midyear evaluations for new staff.
Consistent communication between the weekday preschool ministry director and supervisor should be the norm. In addition the director will need to communicate regularly with weekday preschool staff, support staff, parents and guardians, and the pastor.
Additionally, the weekday preschool ministry director should be added to contact lists for district and conference news (print and electronic). They should be encouraged to join appropriate United Methodist and social media groups.
Spiritual, Physical, and Emotional Health
Part of supervision is working to ensure the director takes care of his or her spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. Effective leaders nurture their relationship with God. They schedule days off, vacation, and time with friends and family.
If the need arises, the children's ministry director should have access to counseling services and/or professional coaching.
The weekday preschool ministry director should continue to build her/his knowledge and skills for educational leadership and ministry. Participation in workshops, conferences, online courses, and professional networks are a part of staff work. Budget planning should provide time and financial assistance for the director's participation in ongoing development.
Churches can contact Discipleship Ministries for church-sponsored learning opportunities. Other professional development organizations that relate to staff in weekday preschool include United Methodist Association of Preschools – Florida and Tennessee, National and State Associations for the Education of Young Children, and Discipleship Ministries Children’s Ministry Resources.
Termination of Professional Relationship
Termination of employment should occur only after adequate measures have been taken to improve performance, resolve conflict, or address other issues. When termination becomes necessary, all people involved should demonstrate grace in the process.