The calendar is always too busy, the season is already too full, and systems for navigating spaces and communication have become my greatest current frustration. Deep sigh.
But we can not wait to…
Support new families
* New families are concerned a lot about what foods/snacks their kids are getting so organic apple sauce isn’t much more expensive and Made Good foods has fabulous snacks which are very appreciated by families today. Make water available with small paper cups. Stop treating, serving, or rewarding with candy, cupcakes, and fruit juice. Children’s ministry people are more creative than that.
* New families have no idea what our worship habits or routines are and we should be better teachers. When I can’t get traction for that, I print small teaching documents to add to the worship clipboards the children get at the beginning of services or post short teachings on our children’s ministry Facebook group. It’s old school, but I love Chuck Knows Church for all things about liturgical seasons, history, vocabulary, and more. One new teaching a week can make a world of difference for families to feel more connected and comfortable in a less-than-kid-centric environment.
* Give church folk access to you and make yourself accessible to them before and after services. Intentionally introduce and connect people face-to-face with a commonality to begin new friendships, then follow up with a phone call or hallway chat. Know the best one or two small groups where you can direct new people to if new groups are not an option.
Support new small groups
* Don’t be afraid to start a new adult group under children’s ministry. New people need new groups to lessen the awkwardness of walking into a group with history, assigned seats, and set routines. Parents and grandparents need a place to grow in their faith, too, and you can set the table for that with ‘Small Group is sponsored by Children’s Ministry’. Rather than wait for the adult education dept. to start a group and ask for ‘childcare’, take the point to offer an adult Christian education class WHILE you are already leading littles in ministry at the same time. Not sure who to invite to lead/facilitate that? Pray for one and when they arrive with a YES, invite them to choose a partner (this is where THEY do the 2nd invite, not you) for TWO people to lead the group together in a 4-week, 6-week, 9-week season/study. Under children’s ministry, you get to choose the options. Right Now Media and Amplify Media have fantastic small group studies to choose from. People grow in their faith best in circles and at tables. How can you circle up and set the table for the bigs while you lead the littles?
* New families have been reaching out to me BEFORE an event or Sunday because I’ve given them space and opportunity for that with a ‘more info’ button on your website’s children’s ministry page and have a ready email – a kind of form email to edit to make personal in response. Invite your new folks to come 15-30 minute early to make for a smooth and less chaotic start. Plan for a hospitality greeter who knows check-in processes and systems with a resting happy face to make the beginning of their arrival experience a lovely one. It should be a different person from your church’s regular greeter team. This is more than holding a door and pointing. It’s the first trustworthy relationship parents will make to leave their child with you or join their children in your programming.
* New families are concerned about security and if you are trustworthy. Your systems for volunteers, Safe Sanctuary, spaces, hospitality, follow-up, and building relationships must be gracious, accommodating, visible, consistent and trustworthy.
Support existing small groups & classes
* Communication is an issue in every church, but we must be able to do it better no matter the inconvenience. Communicate on paper, email, social media, bulletin boards, posters, fliers about what is happening in the ministry you lead. Leave notes in committee meeting spaces like trustees, finance, and staff-parish relations with a 6-pack of water and a basket of snacks. You don’t need to be there, just leave a little generosity and a note of appreciation for their work signed by you on behalf of the ministry you lead.
* Thank your small group leaders and encourage each one to raise up a ‘wingman’ to take on the administration or hospitality or in case you ‘get hit by a bus’. That is my mantra for pulling someone aside and inviting him/her to see what I’m doing/modeling just in case I get hit by a bus. Jesus never sent His disciples out one at a time, but rather two, three, or seventy. Yes, it’s easier to ‘just do it yourself’ or ‘he’s always led that class’, but we are called to be fruitful and multiply. Keep pushing your one-man-show to recruit a wingman, then love on them both. This raises your leader to be a disciple-maker and your wingman to be raised up to the next level of leadership.
* As a volunteer leader we DID the work of ministry. As a leader of volunteers we equip the saints to learn and practice the work of ministry. We are called to invest in others to use their talents and skills to love people to Jesus. Just as you had to learn, you now get to do the teaching and partnering with others to share the journey. Yes, I could have washed those 10 blankets from Campfire Christmas, but asking on the Facebook page ‘who can help’, we had more help than blankets. Yes, I could have decorated those bulletin boards, but asking others made the boards WAY more inviting. Yes, we could’ve cleaned out the moldy refrigerator, but asking a youth to do it for $20 cash with a box of Clorox wipes made for a much better story and the job got done while he listened to a zoom call for school.
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever.” Deuteronomy 29:29 …pass it on!