Jenni Carter retiring as Georgia Baptist children’s ministry consultant; Krista Staton tapped as her replacement


SUWANEE, Ga. — Jenni Carter, a beloved children’s ministry leader who has served as the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s statewide kids ministry consultant for more than 10 years, has announced her retirement, effective Feb. 29.

And in an interesting twist, one of Carter’s longtime colleagues in children’s ministry, Krista Staton of Tifton, will replace her.

“I’m leaving them in very capable hands,” Carter said of Staton, the children’s ministries director at Northside Baptist Church in Tifton.

In fact, Carter said Staton had initially been offered the position 11 years ago, but, with young children still at home at the time, she turned it down because the job requires extensive travel.

Instead, Staton recommended Carter for the position. At the time, Carter had been children’s ministry leader at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Macon for 24 years.

Carter accepted the job and quickly established herself as a state and national leader in children’s ministries.

Chris Trent, the next gen catalyst for the Mission Board and Carter’s supervisor, said Georgia Baptists “have been incredibly blessed” to have her serving them.

“I’ve jokingly said many times that it’s part of my job description to simply stay out of Jenni’s way as she does kid’s ministry,” Trent said. “If you’ve been blessed to work with Jenni, you know what I’m talking about. She has done and incredible job leading kid’s ministry in Georgia and will be missed.”

Carter has become well-known for the children’s ministry training she offers to church staff members and volunteers.

The importance of having well-trained people doing children’s ministry at the church level is reflected in a survey by the Barna Group, a research firm that focuses on religious beliefs and behaviors among Americans, that found nearly half of all Americans who commit their lives to Christ do so before reaching the age of 13.

In a training session for children’s ministry workers last year, Carter pointed out that children will go through recognizable stages in their spiritual development – the discovery stage when they’re asking lots of questions, the discerning stage when they’re determining how to react to what they have learned, the decision stage when they decide to give their hearts to Christ, and the discipling stage when they learn more about their faith.

Well-trained children’s ministry leaders will recognize those stages and offer the guidance needed.

Carter said she will work alongside Staton for the next couple of months to ensure a smooth transition.

Staton said she is excited about starting in the new position, effective Feb. 16.

“I am just looking forward to serving Georgia Baptists and getting to know all the children’s ministers better and serving them and equipping the local churches,” she said.

Staton, who has a bachelor’s degree in child and family development from the University of Georgia, has 21 years of experience in children’s ministry, the last 18 at Northside.

“Krista has served Georgia well now for years and has already been a leader in kid’s ministry in our state,” Trent said. “We’re excited to have her on board.”

Staton said Carter has been a nurturing friend, not just to her but to everyone ministering to kids.

“Jenni has brought children’s ministers together all across the state and has set up a wonderful network between them,” Staton said. “She has loved us and cared for us and supported us.”