By the time this is published, I’ll be attending a national Children’s Ministry conference with a bus load of other kidmin champions. We’ll attend workshops, overhear conversations, spend WAY too much time in a resource center and come home with a slew of new ideas and excitement for what is to come.  The tension comes when I’ve already set my calendar for the year. As stated last week, that document is always a working calendar because we desire to be relevant, helpful to our families, and offer freshness. How do we work out the tension?

Each programming year, the goal is to offer 20% of our programming as ‘new’ items, meaning that 20% of our old programming will take a sabbatical, be fully handed off to laity, or updated to be included in the 20% of ‘new’. This keeps ministry fresh and relative to changing culture and family needs. For example: The Tour of the Nativities has grown into such a huge event set two hours before the annual Christmas Choir event, that it’s bigger than me. Little people handling the treasures of so many has me shaking in my boots, so I’ve already contacted one of the Women’s Ministry groups to take it on in the future, thus opening a spot for something new in that season of church life.

The additional challenge comes when everything you offer is great, or we like to think it is.  But let’s face it.  We all have limited resources in volunteers, champions, funding, and time. So let’s be intentional about offering what is best: be in prayer, talk with your parents, chat it up among your students, run it by your pastor and church leadership in the casual conversations of life. For example, while Christmas Caroling, I was able to ask the children in attendance if they had enough time to make all the stations at Messy Family Christmas to see if I needed to adjust the next year’s timing of Messy McEachern on the Fifth Sundays. I do. Sharing a bus seat with our Princess Class Bible Study leader which took us from home to home while caroling, we were able to discuss a change in 3rd-5th grade programming for the NEXT school year which will suit her schedule and passions as well as meet the prayerful needs of the large group of students coming up into the 3rd grade. Two major programming items for 2019-2020? Done! Now I have a whole year to talk it up.

To aid my focus of adding only what is best, I set aside a dinner with my leadership team two weeks before attending the conference. Away from church. At a local restaurant. These ten servants in the trenches of children’s ministry shared laughter, food, ideas, what they love, and what they dream for us in the years to come.  We talked and laughed about everything from Sunday school to the Christmas Eve children’s play. Very informally they shared their kid’s favorite things about their church and even why. This amazing team of leaders are of all ages, have kids of all ages, been at the church forever or just joined our church this year. These are the champions, the connectors, the voices with seats at leadership tables in other areas of the church, the workers, and the partners who will fuel the new and will be all-in for what we keep and update in our programming. We talked about our shared vision for relationships between our kids and families and agreed that Sunday school is the primary offering of Christian Education developmentally appropriate for our littles. We even renamed a few things that will take on an update in the new year. Collaboration at it’s best before I head off to a conference that will blow my mind without this focus.

Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great, that “Great leaders shoot bullets before shooting cannonballs. Bullets are miniature cannonballs. They’re inexpensive, easy to make, and easy to shoot. Outcomes invite us to face assumptions as we test, evaluate, and adapt on a smaller scale.” We did that with Messy Family Christmas (a take on the Messy Church model during Advent). We did that with McPeachern (luncheon with peach food at the height of Georgia peach season). We will do that with Wonderfully Made and a Middle School panel dessert event we’ll have in late April for what we desire to offer as a series in 2019-2020.

How do you add something to your calendar with intentionality?

“Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:5-8