Three Things to do Five Minutes Before Every Event

It is five minutes before VBS/Sunday School/Children’s Church/Mid-week clubs and you are trying to finish setting up while two volunteers want to discuss their schedules and the kids are running around screaming. Does this scenario sound familiar?

I think it is all too familiar for most Children’s Ministry leaders. Rather than letting the chaos control you, take five minutes to reset. There are three things that all leaders should do 5 minutes before every program or event.

Three Things to do Five Minutes Before Every Event

First, check the schedule. Look over what is about to happen. As the leader, you need to know what is scheduled and who is responsible for what.

Second, pray. Ask God for wisdom, love, and creativity. Most importantly , ask God to give you clear focus during the event to see opportunities to share the gospel and to build relationships with kids and volunteers.

Third, remember that it is all about making disciples. No matter the purpose of the specific program you are leading, everything in Children’s Ministry is about making disciples. What is going to happen during this event that will help you do that?

This is a good habit to develop but it’s not going to work unless your volunteer team knows that this is important to you. Tell them what you are doing and how long you need to do it. Then suggest that they develop the same habit.

Duck out of the room and find a quiet place to go through these three steps.

If everyone on the team is doing these three things and understands the importance of them, prep work will get done sooner so that there is time for this reset.

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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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Is it time for a check-up? Here’s a Program Evaluation Tool

SurveyNo matter what ministry you are involved with, periodic evaluation is necessary. Programs in children’s ministry can run for years with parents and volunteers assuming that everything is fine. But it’s important to take a step back every once and a while and really consider how a specific program is doing. Is it fulfilling its purpose? Is it meeting a current need?

Evaluation is important for every program in children’s ministry. If the program is doing well, then be encouraged. If it isn’t, then let me encourage you to use this as an opportunity for positive change!

The prospect of conducting an evaluation on a current ministry program can be daunting. Here is a tool that you can use to make the process simple yet effective.
This program evaluation tool uses 5 steps to conduct an evaluation and develop an action plan.

Step 1—Pray

This is the first step in an evaluation process, but it should also be sprinkled throughout the process. When doing an honest evaluation we need the Holy Spirit to guide us and convict us.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

In every situation, including embarking on an evaluation process, present your requests to God. And the promise is peace that will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.

So, pray before you begin and pray throughout the process.

Step 2—Define the Program

This particular evaluation tool was designed for one specific program at a time. During this step you will articulate the purpose, position on the children’s ministry spectrum, and vision of this particular program.

If you don’t have the answer to one or more of these questions, don’t worry. You can find the answer. It’s important to have these foundational things before you move on in the evaluation process.

Take the time you need to step out of the evaluation process and define the purpose of your program. Take a few minutes to plot where it is on the children’s ministry spectrum. Is it helping to fulfill the children’s ministry vision? If you need help with the children’s ministry spectrum or writing a vision statement, links are provided to articles that will help you.

Once you have defined the program, it’s time to move on to step 3.

Step3—Evaluate the Program

The program evaluation tool is divided into 4 categories: Purpose/Vision; Program/Curriculum; Volunteers; and Administration.  Within each category are a series of questions. To complete the evaluation, mark the column that best matches your answer to that question (“Absolutely”, “Somewhat”, “Not really”, or “Not at all”). Answer these questions as accurately as possible, taking into account the program’s current situation. Be careful not to answer based on what you want the answer to be but rather how it is right now. The more accurately you answer these questions now, the easier the next steps will become!

So be honest and take your time.

Step 4—Reflect on the Program

This section of the evaluation contains 3 questions for you to answer. These questions give you the opportunity to get down on paper your thoughts about this program. Use as much space and take as much time as you need. The answers you give here can help to reveal deeper thoughts and feelings about your program that you might not have answered in the evaluation chart in the previous step and these answers will help you as you go through the rest of this tool.

Step 5—Identify Next Steps

This sections contains a flowchart will help you identify potential next steps to take as a result of how you answered the evaluation questions. By the time you are finished you should have a list of things to do to improve your program.

Use the program evaluation tool to help you honestly evaluate your program and come up with a plan for what to do in the future.

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