Strategic Planning for Kids Ministry

strategic-planning-imageOne of my favorite sayings is, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”

I was at Willow Creek Church, sitting in their board room, with a team of Kids Ministry people from around the world.  One of the staff from the Willow Creek Association was leading our session on Strategic Planning.  I was thrilled to get an inside look at the process that Willow uses for Strategic Planning.  (more on that in another post) I was reminded how important it is to take time to do Strategic Planning.

Each year, it’s a good idea to sit down & work through a process of strategic planning.  I suggest you do these steps:

1.  Take time to pray and ask God to show you what He has in His plans for Kids Ministry this year.

2.  Set aside time in your schedule (like a whole day, or a few half days) where you can focus on strategic planning with no interruptions.

3.  Write down what the Goals are for your Kids Ministry.  Then pull out your ministry calendar & make a list of all the programs & events that you did in the past year.  Evaluate.  Did these programs & events help you accomplish your goal?

4.  Write down your new or reoccurring goals for the upcoming year.  What steps do you need to take to accomplish those goals?  Write down those steps.

5.  Sit down with your Sr. Pastor & share your plan with him.  Make sure your plans line up with the mission & goals of the church.

6.  Then sit down with your leadership team or key volunteers and walk through the plan with them.  Get their input & feedback.

7.  Communicate your plan to the people who need to know.  Share relevant information with volunteers & parents.  Let them know that you have a direction & a plan for that year & you want them to be a part of it.

8.  Strategic planning doesn’t end there.  Schedule dates in your calendar to evaluate your plan along the way.  Several times a year do a double-check to see if you are on track and accomplishing your goals.

9.  One more thing.  Don’t forget to celebrate & thank God for what He has done.  As you look back on the year, be reminded of what God has accomplished & celebrate it.  Share stories.  Write a report for your Sr. Pastor.  Email stories to your volunteer team to remind them that their hard work is making a difference.  Say thanks to God for all that He has done.



What 3 colors will help you make great decisions in Kids Ministry?


I am part of a team of Kids Ministry People from around the world brought together by Sue Miller.  I get to represent Canada on this team of amazing people!  At our last international meeting Pat Cimo gave us sheets of paper in 3 different colors. She asked us to write down things about our Kids Ministry in the following categories:

Green – What do you need to keep doing?  These are things that are going well, and helping you accomplish your vision and values.

Yellow – What do you need to slow down on?  These are things that you need to evaluate & decide if they need improvement or to be cut.

Red – What do you need to stop doing?  These are things that are costing you time & resources and are not helping you accomplish your vision for Kids Ministry.

What aspects of your kids ministry could you put into these categories?

3 things to help reduce volunteer turnover


If you want to keep the volunteers that you have, here are some things that you should remember:

Communication – Volunteers want to be in the loop and know what is happening.  Don’t spring surprises on them or forget about them when it comes to communication.  Stay in touch with them on a regular basis.

Feedback – Ask volunteers what they think.  Ask them how things are going in their room.  Send out a mini survey to get  feedback on specific questions.  When you ask them their opinion it helps them to feel like they are valued on the team.

Make it personal – Doing ministry is about serving together.  It’s not about getting a job done, it’s about connecting with people on the journey.  Sure you may be working together to accomplish a task or a goal, but really the priority is about the relationship that you are building with them.  When people see that you value them as a person more than what they do, they will feel cared for.  By keeping teams of volunteers small (max 12 people per leader) then you can build relationships at a personal level.

What are you doing to help reduce volunteer turnover in your ministry?


Don’t make these mistakes when looking for volunteers


One of the biggest challenges in Kids Ministry is a shortage of volunteers.  There never seems to be enough of them.

I have volunteered for other people before and I have taken what I learned from that experience to see volunteering from a different perspective.

Don’t ask the question before you paint the picture –  Announcements, general emails, posters, videos, power point slides etc.  They may not result in droves of people banging down your door to ‘sign up’ but they do help raise awareness that you need help.  You need to paint the picture of WHY this ministry is so amazingly important.  Paint the picture of why you need their help.

Don’t be vague on what you are asking – Be clear on what you need them to do & what it will take to get the job done.

Don’t take their time for granted – My time is valuable.  I don’t want to show up just to be an extra set of hands.  I want a specific job to do and feel like they would be in big trouble if I wasn’t there to fill that role.

Don’t think that no response means ‘no’ – Sometimes people hear you ask the question, but they have to go through a process before they get to the place where they can commit to a ‘yes’.  Maybe they have to check their work schedule, or ask their spouse to take care of the kids.  Maybe they read your email on their phone, but were busy at the time and forgot to respond. All of these things take time.  Consistent, gentle reminders are usually effective to keep the idea in front of people.  And then, when you give them a personal ask, the chances are way better that they will be willing to help.

Don’t think that ‘no’ means ‘never’ – Timing is everything. It just might not be a good time for them to help.  Or, the job you are asking them to do doesn’t light a fire in them, but perhaps a different job will.  Always have a back up plan.  If now isn’t a good time, when would be better?  If you don’t want to do this, would you consider that?

Usually people are willing to help.  It’s your job to effectively communicate that you need help, and to help them find the right fit, at the right time.




Prayer Wall – Kid Version

PrayerWallWillowCreek PrayerWall

I have been to Willow Creek Church many times and each time I go I see something new.  During my last visit, I saw this prayer wall in one of the kids rooms.  I thought it was a great visual for kids to see their prayers represented on the different colored papers. They took time in their small groups to think of something to pray for, write it down, and put their paper on the wall.

It looked like it would be fairly easy to make and lightweight to move as needed.

We need Help!

help sign

Sometimes volunteers in classrooms need assistance.  Maybe a child needs a parent, or they need help to clean up a spill, or they need more volunteers.

An easy way to get the attention of a hall monitor or Kids Director is to use this sign.  I saw this when I went to visit Northpoint Community Church in Atlanta.  Each preschool room had one of these signs that they could just wave out the door when they needed someone.  As long as someone is assigned to being a hall monitor, this system could work!

John Maxwell’s Eleven Keys to Excellence


When I started my very first job as a pastor, my senior pastor said, “Have you ever heard of John Maxwell?  You need to listen to his Injoy Life Club tapes.”  I think that was some of the best advice that I received in my early days of ministry.  My husband and I would listen to tape after tape when we would drive in our car.  (I know I am dating myself by admitting they were in the form of ‘tape cassettes’.)

Today I still listen to CDs, mp3’s and audio books by John Maxwell.  I have many of his DVD training kits on leadership and teamwork that I use when I teach my students in my Children’s Ministry Courses at Emmanuel Bible College.  His material is jam packed with great wisdom about leadership.

One of the audio cassettes (which I have converted to MP3) is called, “Eleven Keys to Excellence”.  There is a version of this talk on YouTube.  The last part is missing, but you get most of the content.

Here are the Eleven Keys that John teaches in this talk:

1.  Value excellence

2.  Don’t settle for average

3.  Pay attention to detail

4.  Develop a deep commitment to excellence

5.  Possess ethics and integrity

6.  Show genuine respect for others

7.  Go the second mile

8.  Be consistent

9.  Never stop improving

10.  Always give 110%

11. Make excellence a lifestyle

If you come across any of John’s material, take the time to read it or listen to it.  Time well invested in growing your leadership.