6 Ways that “Boring Forms” Provide Essential Insight into the Pulse of Your Ministry

It can feel like you are inundated with forms. There are so many forms to fill out for every program and the administration of it all can end up feeling overwhelming. So you end up with a stack of forms on your desk that you barely look at except to check that they are filled out and to ensure you are aware of any allergies.

Children's Ministry Paperwork

But I believe that these forms have so much more value. Registration forms and attendance records particularly are valuable tools in Children’s Ministry. These records offer more than compliance with insurance companies and contact information for families.

Here are 6 ways registration forms and attendance records provide essential insight into the pulse of your ministry:

1. Trends in Attendance

Look at attendance records over a quarter and over the whole year. You will notice trends that can help you make decisions about how to plan for the future, when to begin and end programs, and see when there might be significant drops in attendance.

For example, you notice that attendance dramatically drops off of your clubs program after June so that might be valuable information to consider shutting it down for the summer.

2. Ratio of Churched Kids to Unchurched Kids

Registration forms can tell you how many churched kids are attending your programs and how many unchurched kids are attending. This is especially helpful information for outreach and evangelistic programs.

You might notice that your outreach program only has 10% non-churched children and 90% churched children. In this case you need to look at ways of encouraging those kids to invite their friends and of ways of getting the word out in the community.

3. Consistency in Attendance

Attendance records can tell you who attends programs consistently and who doesn’t. Looking at these records will also tell you if a student who has been consistent suddenly drops off.

When reviewing attendance records you may notice that a certain child has been missing from the program. You may want to follow up and find out why.

4. Awareness of Family Schedules

With families busy with so many different activities, it can be difficult to know when to schedule events or programs. Taking a look at your attendance records can help you become more aware of the family schedules in your church.

You may notice that attendance as a whole drops off at a certain point in the year. You may want to do some investigating and find out why. The answers might help you schedule the program to fit the needs of families better.

5. Drop in Specific Program Attendance

It’s valuable to take a look at registration and attendance over a number of years.

You may notice that certain programs that were well-attended in the past have far fewer attending now. This may mean you need to look at changes to the program or the possibility of ending the program if it has run its course.

6. Registrations for Kids Who Don’t Actually Attend

You may notice that you received registration forms for children who are not actually attending the program. You may want to follow up with parents and find out why this is.

As you can see, all that paperwork that you feel inundated with in Children’s Ministry is actually essential. If you take the time to review your records you will find insight into the pulse of your ministry.

Games Your Kids Will Never Tire of Playing – Parachute Man

Games Your Kids Will Never Tire of Playing

This is a version of the classic game Hangman. The big difference between this version and the original is that the game starts with a full picture and pieces are erased rather than a partial picture with pieces added.

Object

To guess the hidden word before all the lines on the parachute have been erased.

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Rules

1. One player thinks of a word (but does not tell any of the other players) and writes down the same number of dashes as there are letters in the word.

2. The other players now begin guessing letters in the word, one at a time. If the guess is correct, the first player writes in the letter above the correct dash (or dashes if the letter appears more than once).

3. If the guess is incorrect, the first player erases one of the lines connecting the parachute to the man.

4. The players can guess at the hidden word at any time. The player who correctly identifies the word is the person to choose the next word.

Reasons Why I Love This Game

1. It’s a quiet game – It is a good idea to have a few quiet games in your repertoire. There are times when quiet games are the perfect activity

2. It requires little equipment – a writing surface (chalkboards/whiteboards are ideal) and a writing implement (chalk/whiteboard markers).

3. It suits theme rounds perfectly – you can play books of the Bible rounds (like in the picture above), words from the memory verse rounds, animals, people, places, etc.

4. Everyone plays – I love games where the most children can play for the most amount of time and this is one of those games.

 

Have fun!

 

[Room Decoration Contest] And the WINNER is…

Children’s Ministry leaders are forced to work within a budget, so they need to get creative to come up with an engaging space for the children to learn. Last week I posted a contest because I wanted to see you decorate your classroom on a budget.

I’m excited to announce the winner is Joan Eppehimer from New York State. Here’s the winning picture.

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This classroom went through a major renovation and the result is fantastic! This room was decorated for $56 – some of the paint was donated and the stove was found at a garage sale. The bulletin board was covered with a scene-o-graph. (You can see more classrooms that have been renovated on her website kidfrugal.blogspot.com)

Here’s why I choose Joan’s classroom as the winner:

  • She got an impressive result for a very affordable price.
  • It’s very easy for the teachers because they don’t have to switch up decorations every month or two.
  • It’s an immersive experience for the kids – they feel like they are in Bible times. It stimulates imagination and helps kids understand a bit of what it was like in Bible times. They start to understand that the stories they are hearing are real – real people in real places.

Congratulations Joan! I’ll contact you to send you your prize. Thanks to everyone else who sent in your pics!

5 Tips for Decorating Your Classroom on a Budget

childrens-ministry-classroom-decoration1. Set Up a Resource Room

If your church doesn’t have a resource room, set one up! Even if it is just a closet, a resource room is a place to keep material that you know you will re-use. Let the other teachers know about the resource room and encourage them to store bulletin board materials, visuals, and other re-useable items in it.

If your church does have a resource room, make sure it’s organized well and easily accessible to your Sunday School teachers. Encourage them to use it.

Need some help organizing your resource room, check this out!

2. Wrapping Paper is a Fantastic, Inexpensive Decoration

Wrapping paper makes a great, festive background for bulletin boards or highlight areas on walls and it’s really inexpensive. You can find general wrapping paper and seasonal wrapping paper at Dollar stores. And then you have the tube that can be used for any number of things when the roll is used up! You can also re-use wrapping paper (as long as it is still in good shape after being unwrapped!)

3. Spend Your Budget on Things that Have Lasting Value

If you have a budget for decoration, spend it on things that have lasting value that can be re-used in multiple ways. Stay away from fads when choosing items to decorate your classroom. Instead, spend your limited budget on letters, trim, construction paper, and poster paper that you can use and re-use as you design bulletin boards that will engage your class and help them to focus on God and the gospel. Find well-illustrated Bible story pictures and Bible timelines. Spend your budget on items that will have lasting value.

4. Decorate for Larger Seasons Rather than Single Events

I have two bulletin boards in my classroom. I decorate one of them according to the season (fall, winter, spring, summer). That way I am only changing out the bulletin board 4 times a year. Then, I add thematic elements to keep it fresh. For example, a week before Valentine’s Day I added some red hearts. This got the kids attention and it was a great hook into our Bible verse for the month – John 3:16!

5. Ask for Donations of Old Magazines

Old National Geographics are a great place to find pictures of nature, animals, and people. Ask people from your congregation to donate old magazines and then comb through them for pictures that you can use to decorate the classroom.  This is a great way to find material if you are doing a missions related bulletin board.

Don’t forget to send in a photo of your classroom for a chance to win a signed copy of my book! Get more info about the contest here.

CONTEST: Decorating Your Classroom on a Budget

childrens-ministry-classroom-decoration

Last year I needed to design a special bulletin board that focused on the Bible. We were encouraging our kids to get in the habit of bringing their Bibles to Sunday School. I wanted a fun, colorful bulletin board that highlighted the Bible and the facts about the Bible that we would be teaching the kids. Our church doesn’t have a resource room and so I had to get creative if I was going to design this bulletin board. I created some Bible verse posters, and made some New Testament and Old Testament signs. I still needed trim and letters so I decided to try the local dollarstore. I was pretty excited to find that they sold letters and trim! I didn’t have a budget for this project but I didn’t mind spending my own money since it was only a few dollars.

Often Sunday School teachers have a great idea for decorating their classroom but they are constrained by budget (a small budget or no budget at all!)

So teachers need to get creative to find ways to have a fun, engaging classroom with little to no budget.

Here are a few tips:

  • Make pictures and posters yourself (if you have the talent!) or ask your class too. Kids love to see their own artwork on the walls.
  • Use the dollarstore and the thriftstore. I have found all kinds of interesting materials and ideas when browsing through the local thrift store and dollarstore.
  • Don’t throw away old curriculum until you have searched through it for posters, pictures, and resources that you can re-use in your classroom.
  • Ask a creative, artistic person to help you design some posters for your classroom.

Contest

I want to see how you decorate your classroom and I’m giving a prize for the best decorated classroom I see. I am giving away a signed copy of my book, The Well Equipped Volunteer Children’s Ministry Handbook. Take a picture of your classroom and send it in, along with the approximate amount it cost to decorate. Send your pictures to janelle@wellequippedvolunteer.com.

I will be looking for the most creative, fun classroom that uses its decorations to focus the children on Jesus, the gospel, and the Bible (and does it affordably!)

Rules

  • Please send no more than 5 pictures of your classroom (please keep your email below 5mb to ensure I receive it.)
  • I’ll be the judge.
  • Multiple submissions for multiple classrooms are okay, but you can only submit one classroom once.
  • Submitting pictures allows me to post them on my website so please ensure your pictures do not include children.
  • This contest is limited to Canada and the US.

The winner will be announced on March 2, 2015 at 12:00pm central time.

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