8 Free Ways to Get a Children’s Ministry Education

Back to school

Many volunteers participate in Children’s Ministry because they have a passion for raising up godly children. But what happens when they want to enhance their skills and Bible knowledge? It’s not as if they can drop everything and get a Bible College degree.All Children’s Ministry leaders deserve training.

Here are 8 free ways to get a Children’s Ministry education.

1. Watch for free ebooks.

A number of websites will periodically offer ebooks for free. Keep an eye on these sites – many of them include Children’s Ministry, theological, or Bible study books. Also watch for child development, discipline, and classroom management. My friends over at Kidology will highlight ebooks by Karl Bastian and others. Amazon and Christian Book are also two sources to look at.

And, sign up for emails from David C. Cook, they’ve curated a list of free ebooks from all over the web.

2. Set up a free library with other Children’s Ministry leaders in your area.

Contact other Children’s Ministry leaders in your area and arrange to share books with each other. Everyone involved can create a list of books that they are willing to include in the library. Once you have received these lists, combine them into a single book list that includes the name of the book, the author, who owns it, and contact information from that person. Then, borrowing books is easy!

3. Make Use of Children’s Ministry Websites.

There are hundreds of Children’s Ministry websites. Some are subscriptions sites, but many are free. Find one or two solid ones that offer articles and training in Children’s Ministry. Then make it a part of your weekly schedule to visit these sites for study purposes.

4. Design a Curriculum.

Most Bible Colleges post their course catalogs on their websites. Look at one or two that offer a degree that allows you to major in Children’s Ministry (or Christian Education). Look at the courses that are offered and then make a list of the topics that are covered. Once you have a list of topics you can look for books on those topics in the church or public library, look for articles on those topics on Children’s Ministry websites, and create a list of questions to ask Children’s Ministry leaders (see point 5).

5. Meet with the top Children’s Ministry leaders in your area.

Make a list of the top Children’s Ministry leaders in your area and invite them over for coffee. Ask each one specific Children’s Ministry question (see point 4). Also ask for book and website recommendations.

6. Audit a class

If there is a Bible college in your area, look into auditing a class. Some colleges charge a fee for auditing a class, while others offer it for free. Take courses on topics like Children’s Ministry, Leadership, Theology, Bible, or Child Development.

7. Visit other Children’s Ministries in your area.

Plan a few Sundays throughout the year to visit other Children’s Ministries. Call ahead and let them know that you are planning to visit and would like to observe their Children’s Ministry programs. Note check-in procedures, volunteer teams, curriculum, schedules, routines, discipline, relationships, and leadership.

8. Youtube and Vimeo.

There are many Children’s Ministry training videos available for free on youtube and vimeo. For example, Discipleland offers over 50 leadership training videos including “Ten Traits of Children’s Ministers Who Run a Good Race for God,” Learning Styles for Children,” “Helping Children Develop a Biblical Worldview,” and “Classroom Management.”

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Is It Worth It?

childrens ministry don't be anxiousLast week I was the speaker at a Bible camp for kids ages 9-11. Next week I am speaking at the VBS at our church (where I am also the director). It’s been a pretty busy summer getting ready!! It can be all too easy to get caught up in the details when involved in events like this…I found it happening to me.

Tuesday at camp I shared the gospel with the kids and I shared my testimony. I gave the cabin leaders some material to share with their cabins (the Romans road and some questions to ask the kids about what they understand and believe about Jesus). Wednesday morning a cabin leader told me that a girl in her cabin gave her life to Jesus after chapel!

That moment I knew that all of it is worth it. One child saved makes all of it worth it.

I came home from camp and immediately jumped into all the last-minute details of VBS for our church. When I feel like it’s getting too much, I remember that girl and pray that God would continue His work in the lives of the children who come to our VBS.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:1-7

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Your Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Job Descriptions for New Children’s Ministry Programs

pen in hand

  1. Download the job description template available here. You will be using it so keep it nearby! This step-by-step guide was designed to be used in conjunction with the job description template. It will not make much sense without it so don’t skip this step!
  2. Download the job description instruction guide available here. It contains hints and tips for completing the template that you may find helpful.
  3. At the top of a piece of paper write down the name of the new program in your Children’s Ministry.
  4. Under that heading, list every volunteer position required for the new program. Carefully review all possible volunteer roles required for this new program. You will want an accurate list before you start writing job descriptions.
  5. Grab a blank job description template and get ready to start filling it in!
  6. The first blank space is titled Ministry Position. Choose one of the volunteer roles to start with and write it in here.
  7. In the blank space beside Ministry Leader write the name and contact information of the person who is in charge of this program. This will be the person that a volunteer will contact with questions, concerns, etc.
  8. The last area to fill out in this first box of information is ministry area. Here you want to provide detail about the specific department, for example, “Preschool Sunday School.” If you are a small children’s ministry this may not be pertinent. If this part of the template is not something you will use, delete it. The great thing about this job description template is that is it customizable. Tailor it to fit your situation!
  9. Once you have filled in the basic information about the volunteer position, it’s time to provide more detailed information. A good job description tells a volunteer how long they are committing to a position. Since this is a new program, you may want volunteers to commit to a full year to give the program a chance to take off. You may be testing out a new program and therefore want a commitment of three months from volunteers. Be specific in this section.
  10. Fill in the amount of time each week the volunteer role requires. This part of the job description template is called “Time Commitment.” Be specific about how much time each week this role requires. Include the time at the program, any preparation time, and any before and/or after program expectations. Since this is a new program, be generous in the amount of time required of volunteers. They would rather discover that it takes less time per week than they thought than more time then they would told.
  11. The next section of the job description is where you will specify the qualifications volunteers need to have in this volunteer position. 2 or 3 requirements should be enough. What do you require of your volunteers? If a background check is required for this position, add it to this section.
  12. A good job description will include the training offered to volunteers in this position. Be specific. What training is currently provided for volunteers in this position?
  13. Finally, describe the specific responsibilities of volunteers for this position. In order to be as specific as possible, record the responsibilities during the week (these would include preparation time, for example) and responsibilities the day of (including set up and clean up). Describe exactly what it is you are asking volunteers to do when they agree to this role.
  14. Repeat all the steps for each volunteer position in your new program.
  15. Give a job description to every volunteer who is considering and/or agreeing to the new position.

Here are other articles that you may find helpful:

Why Do You Need A Job Description?
Your Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Job Descriptions for Current Children’s Ministry Programs

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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.

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Bigger is Better, Right?

Are you a small children’s ministry? Do you sometimes look at larger children’s ministries and think, “If only we had their budget, their volunteers, their space?”

Bigger has become equated with better. Bigger children’s ministries have more money, more space, and more volunteers. That must mean that they offer more value to the kids who attend their programs. They must offer better children’s ministry.

We all have these thoughts. But is bigger automatically better?

Where does the true value come from in children’s ministry?

Making DisciplesRelationships

The true value in children’s ministry is not in the budget or the space, it starts with the relationships you and your team build with the kids in your care. Do you take the time to get to know the kids in your programs? Do you start outreach programs with the express purpose of getting to know the kids in your community? Building relationships is a key part of children’s ministry.

Gospel

Children’s ministry is important because it is an opportunity to share the gospel in an age-appropriate, targeted manner with kids that you have been building a relationship with. Budgets, space, and a huge volunteer base won’t mean anything if they are not being used to help you share the gospel with the kids who attend your programs. The gospel is key; it’s central to everything we do in children’s ministry. Are you regularly sharing the gospel with the kids in your ministry?

Are you making disciples?

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

This is what it’s all about: Children’s Ministry is about making disciples. Jesus commands us to make disciples. The true value in children’s ministry is the opportunity it allows us to make disciples of kids. We build relationships, we share the gospel. Why? In order to make disciples. And when children do put their trust in Jesus, we build them up as disciples teaching them how to pray, how to study their Bibles, how to use the gifts God has given them to serve and build up the church.

Are you making disciples in your children’s ministry?

Budget

Whatever your budget is, use it to build relationships, share the gospel, and make disciples.

Volunteers

However many volunteers you have, make it your goal as a team to build relationships, share the gospel, and make disciples.

Space

Whether you have a huge amount of space or one small classroom, creatively use the space you have to help you build relationships, share the gospel, and make disciples.

So, is bigger always better? Not necessarily. The focus shouldn’t be on how big your children’s ministry is. The focus should be on making disciples. It doesn’t really matter what size your budget is, what size your space is, or what size your volunteer team is. What matters is whether you are using those things to help you make disciples.

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