Permission to End a Program

childrens-ministry-cancel a programI was involved once in a club program that was going really well. We had a club for kids in grades 1-3, for girls in grades 4-6, and for boys in grades 4-6.

The clubs were well planned and purposeful. Kids from the church came and they invited their friends. Kids from the community were coming too. We were building relationships with kids and introducing them to Jesus. It was great!

There was one major problem. As time went on we lost volunteers—lots of volunteers! There were plenty of reasons: job changes, school, other ministry responsibilities, etc, etc. We got to the point where we couldn’t safely or effectively run the program anymore.

So, what did we do? We started praying for wisdom and more volunteers. We also got the word out. We talked with parents and the congregation to let them know of the need for volunteers in our club ministry.

Parents were concerned…they loved the club program and wanted it to continue. However, we ended up losing a few more volunteers.

So, we choose to end the program. It was a hard decision, but it was the right one. We couldn’t effectively run the program with the volunteers we had, so we shut it down.

A year or so later, our church got involved with a breakfast club program at a local school. I was pretty excited. This was outreach! We may not be running an outreach club anymore at the church, but we were involved in outreach through the breakfast club program. We were meeting children in the community and building relationships.

Let me give you permission right now to end a program that is not working in your children’s ministry. It’s okay! It’s not a sign of failure and it’s not a sign that you don’t care about the children in your ministry. Sometimes, it’s a necessity. And sometimes, it’s the necessary start to something better.

1. Consider carefully why you are ending a program

There are many good reasons for ending a program. But keep in mind that sometimes we can be discouraged and begin to doubt the effectiveness of a program. Your discouragement is probably not a good reason to end a program. It is something that needs to be dealt with though.

Here are some reasons to end a program:

  • You already have programs that are fulfilling the same purpose.
  • You don’t have enough volunteers to effectively run the program.
  • You don’t have a leader to run the program.
  • The program is not effective.
  • There are not enough children attending.

This list is not exhaustive, it’s just a sampling of legitimate reasons to end a program.

Consider carefully why you are ending a program and be able to articulate the reason to those who ask.

2. How to defend your position

People will probably want to know why you are ending a program (especially if it seems to be going well.) It will be easier to defend your position if you have made communication a priority during this program.

Parents and the pastor or elders should already know what’s going on in the program. Why you run it, who’s attending, and its effectiveness.

How do you defend your position to parents? How do you defend your position to the pastor and elders?

Most importantly, people will want to know that you made a carefully considered, prayerful decision. Let them know about the process you used to get to your decision. And let them know what your plans are for the future.

3. Consider the future

Replacement of a program is not always necessary. If you have an effective program for outreach, then you probably don’t need a new one.

Sometimes an alternative is the answer. At the beginning of this article, I talked about a club program we had to shut down because we didn’t have enough volunteers. The idea was good, the purpose was outreach, the kids were having fun, but we didn’t have enough volunteers. One solution could be to shut down that particular club program and find an alternative idea that doesn’t require so many volunteers.

Maybe you are ending a program because you have an idea for something new. That’s okay. Communicate your vision to the pastor and parents. Make sure you have a solid purpose and plan for running the program.

Here’s a program evaluation tool that will be helpful in making the decision to end a program.

Here’s a blog post I wrote about using the program evaluation tool.

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Outreach Idea–Mission: Possible

Are you looking for a new idea for outreach to the kids in your community? Here’s an idea that you can use to reach out to boys in grades 4-6.

Mission: Possible

childrens-ministry-midweek-club-missionpossible

This idea is based around events planned specifically for boys in grades 4-6.

Plan one event per month. Since it is once a month, go big! Think Glo-bowling, rock-climbing, Floor hockey tournament, sledding in a cool location, or a Wii tournament on big screens. Take some time in the planning stages to brainstorm ideas.

It’s a good idea to follow the school year, so plan for 10 events.

Then, because it has a spy theme, invite boys from your church and your community to join the mission. Send out invites (by mail or email). Play around with the theme and have fun!

For each event, send out a new mission invite. This should contain what the mission is, where it will be, and when it will be.

To make it even more fun, devise a simple code that your mission team will need to break to get the needed info.

During the events, have fun and take the time to get to know the boys. Build relationships. Also, plan on brief devotionals that will introduce the boys to Jesus.

As always, when offering programs for kids, make sure you have enough leaders to run the program. These can be men from your church or older teens. Make sure you have safety policies and procedures in place.

Mission: Possible

Have fun with the spy theme, plan cool events that boys in your community will want to attend, recruit leaders that understand the purpose and goals of this outreach program, plan entry-level devotionals that will introduce the boys to Jesus and allow them to ask questions and discover Biblical truth.

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Great Idea for Mid-Week Clubs!

childrens ministry girls clubAre you thinking of starting a mid-week club program? Do you need to revamp your current club program?

Here’s an idea for a club program for girls in grades 5&6:

A few years ago we decided that we needed to refresh our club program. We decided to make our club programs outreach oriented. They were primarily for meeting and building relationships with the kids in our community. On the Children’s Ministry Spectrum, they would be considered outreach. Church kids were encouraged to come, but to invite their friends. We created 3 clubs – one for boys & girls in grades 1-3, one for girls in grades 4-6, and one for boys in grades 4-6. We decided to specialize.

The girls program was called GEMS. (Note: this had nothing to do with the GEMS girls club that has been around for a while. The names just ended up being the same.) We decided to do once a month events. We planned events that would interest girls of this age and then sent out invitations. Invitations were sent via email and snail mail. In the invitations, we encouraged the girls to invite their friends.

We planned a pajama party, a mani-pedi night, a games night, a cooking night, a movie night. We wanted it to be fun and interactive. We planned talks with the girls focusing on issues that they are dealing with – friends, relationships with parents, boys, health & diet. During these talks we brought up what God has to say about the issue. We didn’t plan Bible studies because it was an outreach event, but we did pray and talk about God. We introduced the girls to God and the fact that we can turn to God with our problems and trust Him to love us, care for us, and help us.

This new club format turned out to be very popular. We had 20-30 girls coming to each event (which for our church at the time was a lot!)
We then took the opportunity to invite these girls to VBS, to Sunday School, and to any other event going on at the church that would interest them.

If you are thinking about clubs, look at your children’s ministry spectrum and decide on the main purpose for your club program. If you want to start an outreach club program, use this idea as it is (if you like it!) or as a starting place for you to brainstorm with your volunteers.

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