How to Focus on Kids Ministry Priorities

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Sometimes the number of things that need to be done in Kids Ministry can be overwhelming.  How do you balance the urgent things with things that should be a priority?  So many times the urgent can take a lot of our time, but they are not necessarily things that are a priority.

Start by making a list of things that you would consider priorities in your kids ministry.  What will it take to accomplish those things?  Make a list of things that take a lot of your time.  Then evaluate.  Do you need to make some adjustments so that you have more time to focus on your priorities?

Try using a 3, 6 and 12 month goals list.  Take time to write down 3 things that you would like to accomplish in the next 3 months.  Then write down 3 things to accomplish in the next 6 months, and do the same for 12 months.  Having goals written down on paper helps you to focus on priorities that need to be done.

Thanking volunteers is one of those things that is important, but we never seem to get around to doing that on a regular basis.  If you make a goal of writing one thank you note for each day that you are in the office, then you could make a big difference in a short amount of time, on a regular basis.

I created a “To Do” list and customized it for Kids Ministry to help keep me on track.  Some things are pre-printed on the list to remind me to do them on a regular basis.  The spaces for “this week” and “this month” are the same size as a standard post-it note.  Just write the items that you need to accomplish this week or this month on a post-it note, and transfer the post-it notes to each new page instead of re-writing your list for longer range items.

You can download the Kidmin To Do list for free.  Hopefully it will help you stay organized and focused on what you need to do.

 

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Changing Curriculum? How To Transition Your Volunteers To Something New.

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Change is usually pretty difficult for most people.  If you are thinking of trying something new when it comes to lessons in your kids ministry, it’s probably a good idea to help your volunteers process the change.  Here are some things I learned along the journey of transitioning my team to a new curriculum.

  1.  Do your research.  Before you decide to make the change, find out what your volunteers like about your current curriculum, and what is not working.  Then research what options could potentially solve some of your challenges, or take your kids ministry to a new level.
  2. Decide on your budget.  There are some really great FREE options out there that are worth investigating.  Life Church’s Kids Curriculum, Crossroads Kids Club, NewSpring Church and Kids Kount Publishing are some great FREE options.  If you have some $$ to spend, then there are many options available.  When I transitioned my team of 200 volunteers, we switched to The Gospel Project for Kids.
  3. Communicate.  You can never over communicate.  Email short emails.  Send volunteers little bits of info at a time.  Send them sample videos.  Send them a sample lesson.  Let them know some of the benefits the new curriculum will bring.
  4. Invite them to a meeting.  Invite your key leaders or teachers to come to see and hear about the new curriculum.  Have samples printed off, and outline what changes will be taking place.
  5. Take the new Curriculum on a Test Drive.  Tell your volunteers that you are going to try something new.  They might be more open to a ‘test drive’ than a big change that is set in stone.  Try it out for a few months, and then decide if you are going to keep going with the new curriculum.
  6. Ask for Feedback.  Ask how things are going.  Tweak things along the way that need tweaking.  Listen to your volunteers to see if the new curriculum will be helpful or you need to go back to the drawing board.

How I use Evernote in Kids Ministry

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Kids ministry is full of a zillion details, and Evernote is a great way to keep everything organized and easily accessible. What I like about Evernote is, it syncs with all my devices. When I am working on my computer in my office, I can make notes on things that I can access later on my iPhone, and vice versa. Here are some of the ways that I use Evernote.

Sunday Morning Notes – I connect with a lot of people on Sunday, and often my conversations require an action step. Writing a note on Sunday and tagging it “follow up” allows me to follow through with the details that I said that I would do. I carry my phone with me on Sundays, so it’s easy to make a note in Evernote using my phone. Then on Monday morning, I check my follow up note, and cross off things as I get them done.

Recruiting – I make a note for each person that I connect with about volunteering in Kids Ministry. I add to the notes as they complete various steps in the screening process, such as completed interview, completed police check. This helps me remember who still needs what when it comes to their on-boarding process.

Meeting new people – When I meet new people, I make a note in Evernote to remember their name, and something about them. Depending on the situation, I might even ask someone if I can take their picture, so that I can study the info and remember a face with a name. This was particularly helpful at our family dedication class. I met many new parents, and took their picture, so that I would remember their name at the family dedication event.

Receipts – If I want to get reimbursed for things I purchase for the church, I need to hand in a receipt. Sometimes I purchase something online, and I’m not near a printer to print the receipt. Keeping a list of receipts helps me to remember what I need to hand in at the end of each month.  You could also take a picture of your receipts, and keep them in a notebook.

Business Cards – People give me their business cards, and I can never really remember where I put them.  I scan the card with Evernote, and can always find the info when I need it.

To Do Lists – Writing everything down helps me keep track of what I need to do, and stay focused on it.  In the office or on the go, my list will sync with my devices, so it is always current.

Scripture Verses – Keep track of your personal Bible reading, or verses that are important to you.

New Ideas – I love to visit other churches & learn from their kids ministry.  Taking a picture of things, or writing down a few words in a note of the things I see helps me keep all the ideas in one place, and I can easily refer to them when I am ready to try something new.

Collecting Research or Information – I love to keep learning about leadership, kids ministry (and Disney).  As I search the internet, I can clip ideas or pages using the Web Clipper, and refer to those later on.  Articles, books, or blog posts can be saved in one notebook and organized together.

I’m sure there are many other uses for Evernote, but these are the ones that I use the most.
If you don’t have Evernote, it can be downloaded for Free!  You can find it at evernote.com.

Setting Goals

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If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.  This is also true in Kids Ministry.

Every year I take time with my team to evaluate and celebrate things that happened the previous year and think about what we need to focus on for the upcoming year.  I give my leaders a checklist of things to start the creative thinking process:

  1. Do you have enough volunteers?
  2. What does your room look like?  Is it tidy & organized? Counters cleaned off, cupboards organized?
  3. Signs – Posted in appropriate locations?
  4. Schedules – Are they posted in volunteer areas?
  5. Curriculum – Printed? photocopied? Bins ready to go?
  6. Sets & Props for Large Group Time?
  7. Music – CDs ready to go in the room? Worship Teams ready & on same page?
  8. Small Group Bins – Ready to go?  Do they need any basic supplies?
  9. Room Supplies – All stocked up?
  10. Toy Cleaning – Do you have times/dates scheduled for this?
  11. Meeting with your Volunteer Team – Large Group Teachers? Room Leaders?
  12. Welcome Letter/email from you to your volunteers.

Once they read through this list of questions, I ask them to write down 3 goals for each of the following categories:

  1. 3 months from now
  2. 6 months from now
  3. 12 months from now

Every year I am amazed at the goals that they come up with.  They set the bar high & go beyond what I had hoped for.  We take time in our meeting to give everyone a chance to share their goals.  This helps build the sense of team as they share their ideas with each other.  Each month at our meetings we review these goals & check-in to see how they are doing with them.  More times than not, they accomplish their goals well before their target date.  I am reminded every Leaders Meeting about the importance of setting goals, reviewing them & taking time to celebrate the things that God is doing!

Planning for Christmas yet?

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I am starting to plan for the fall & the events that we will do for this next ministry year.

To kick off the Christmas Season, we have a Gingerbread Party on the last Saturday in November.  It is for families to build a Gingerbread House together.  We have several stations that families can go to:

Gingerbread Station – all the ingredients needed to build a Gingerbread House.  The house pieces are ready to be assembled.  The icing is ready to go in a piping bag & there are 6-8 kinds of candies on each table for them to decorate their house with.

Craft Station – a fun foam gingerbread man ready to decorate.  Glue & decorations ready to go.

Coloring Station – several options of Gingerbread people & houses ready for coloring.

Bounce House – to burn off some of that sugar.

Photo Booth – a professional photographer takes photos of families.  They are emailed a link where they can download their pics.

Snack Station – home made sweet treats to have a little snack so they don’t eat all the candy before it gets on the Gingerbread House.

Take Home Bag – info about our upcoming Christmas Events at our church, Christmas stickers & coloring sheets.

This event is for church families & for families from the community.  It’s a great opportunity for church families to invite non-church friends.

3 Reasons Why You Should Go on a Church Tour

take_a_tourI am getting ready to go on another church tour.  I am taking some of my key leaders from my Kids Ministry with me.  We will drive for about 8 hours one direction, do a little shopping in the US (something Canadians get quite excited about), and spend time attending various classes & services at the church we will be visiting.  We will spend time together in the vehicles and get to know each other in the process.  We will ask a million questions to our gracious hosts (aka Kids Ministry Staff & Volunteers) .  We will come home with our brains ready to explode from all that we saw, heard & experienced.

You should go on a church tour!  I am sure there is a church within driving distance that you could learn from.  Here are some reasons why you should invest time in going on a church tour:

1.  Seeing vs Hearing.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  You can learn so much from seeing something rather than just listening to someone tell you about it.  You will notice details and things that people take for granted.

2.  Casts Vision to Your Team.  You should take a team of people with you.  It will multiply the learning experience and the enthusiasm will be way higher than if you came back to try to tell your team all about the church.

3.  It’s FREE!  OK, well almost free.  You will probably have some travel expenses if you are going any distance, but unlike attending a conference, there is no registration fee.

Is there a church in your area you could connect with and go on a tour?

 

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.