It has been almost a month since I attended CPC20 and I have had time to reflect on my experience. I had a great time! I would like to thank the INCM team for putting on such a great event and for inviting me as a breakout speaker.
I enjoyed meeting and hanging out with people I hadn’t met face-to-face like Melanie Hester, Karl Bastion, Melissa MacDonald, Ken Huth Baker, Dick Crider, and Mark Steiner. I also met some wonderful new friends!
Some highlights of the conference include the general sessions. It was so wonderful to be in a room with 2000 people who shared the same passion as I do. The speakers were funny, relatable, real, and challenging. Another highlight were the food trucks! It was a hard decision to choose which truck I would visit for lunch – there were so many great options! Another highlight was the resource center – it was jammed packed with booths full of resources and I met some wonderful people!
I was privileged to present three breakout sessions and each one was full of people who were eager to learn and excited about taking what they have learned back to their churches and children’s ministries.
Lessons I Learned
Bring a big suitcase! There were many freebies and also many resources purchased at the resource center!
Come prepared to learn and grow – even when you are a speaker! The general session speakers and the breakout speakers all had passion and purpose and provided me with a lot to think about!
Florida in January is a wonderful break from Regina, Canada in January! I went from -40 temperatures to +30 (+86F). But Florida is also soooo humid compared to Regina!
The Children’s Ministry community is full of fun, passionate, interesting people who love Jesus and kids! I am so glad to be a part of this community.
It’s happened to all of us. You stifle a yawn, check the time, and sigh. This meeting is taking forever! We have all been in meetings that have been too long and too specialized. Planning meetings are important and happen for a variety of reasons in Children’s Ministry. We need planning meetings for VBS, Fall Kick-off, Christmas Pageants, Sunday School, Community events, etc. Here are 7 tips to help you have the most productive planning meetings ever!
Cast your vision at each meeting
Planning meetings often involve the nitty gritty of Children’s Ministry. They are about dates and times and places and volunteers. It is all too easy to get bogged down in detail And what ends up happening is the team being unable to see the forest for the trees.
Kids who personally know, genuinely love, and passionately obey God.
Remind your team of the bigger picture at every planning meeting. Lift them up out of the bog of detail with your vision for the children in your ministry. It is so encouraging and invigorating to hear how the event they are planning will help to fulfill your vision for the kids they serve.
Kids who love God with all their heart and desire to grow in him more.
A vision statement is a single sentence description of what you want your kids to be like when they leave your children’s ministry. A vision is important because it gives all your children’s ministry volunteers something to work towards. When a volunteer feels mired down in details, your vision statement will help them to see beyond the present frustrations. Knowing that there is a bigger picture will motivate your volunteers.
So, take a few minutes at the beginning of each planning meeting to cast your vision.
Only Call Necessary Meetings
You may, in the past, have had monthly/weekly meetings to prepare for big events like VBS. People expect them and you call them simply because that is how it has always been done. Let me encourage you to rethink how you call planning meetings. Instead of having a weekly meeting just because you always have, only call necessary meetings. Your team will appreciate the fact that you are respecting their time.
Have a clear purpose for each meeting
This tip goes hand in hand with the previous tip. Know what you want to accomplish in the meeting and as a result of the meeting. Make sure everyone at the meeting knows ahead of time or right from the beginning what the purpose of the meeting is. This allows to you stay on track and keep all participants on track as well.
Respect People’s Time
We have all been at meetings that seem to drag on and on. Have a deadline for your meeting and stick to it. Let your team know how long the meeting will be when you schedule it and then do everything you can to keep it to that time period. When your team knows that one hour meetings are actually one hour meetings, they will be more likely to show up prepared and ready to participate.
Only invite those who need to be there
These tips are all interconnected. Once you know the purpose of your meeting, you will know who you need to invite to that meeting. You don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, so let the team know ahead of time that everyone is valuable and important to the team; you also respect everyone ‘s time so there will be meetings that not everyone is invited to. Only invite those people who need to be there.
Every person there should leave the meeting with an action list
The best way to ensure a productive meeting is to give every person a to-do list. This, again, is connected to knowing the purpose of the meeting.and only inviting those who need to be there. Every person at the meeting should leave with an action list as a result of the meeting. They should have at least one item they need to accomplish before the next meeting.
Make it fun
Finally, make your meetings fun! Plan a brief ice-breaker game if it’s the first time a team is meeting together. Play fun get-to-know-each-other games. Serve coffee or cold beverages. Encourage a fun, relaxed atmosphere. People will be more productive.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.
That is the glorious gospel! That is the message that we need to be sharing with children. The message never changes. The methods we use to tell that message are numerous. I think that it’s important to use a variety of tools as we share the gospel with children.
Halloween is a great opportunity for evangelism. It is one of the rare moments when neighborhood kids are coming to our door!
“Is There Anything Better Than Candy” is a 3D pumpkin that contains candy that you put together and give to kids on Halloween.
Here’s How to Put It Together
The box tract comes on a perforated sheet. of cardstock. Punch out the pumpkin. It will look like this:
Pull each pumpkin stem towards the center and hold together with your fingers. Grab one of the other “petals” and pull it to the center. “Petals” 2,3,5 & 6 have a small cut at the outer edge. Slide the two green stems through the slit. Then continue with the rest of the “petals”. (Don’t forget to put one or two Halloween candies in the center before you start assembling!)
Thoughts and Feedback
I thought this was a really fun way of sharing the gospel with children at Halloween. The box tract is colorful and unique. More importantly, the gospel message inside is written in child-friendly language without losing any of the truth of the gospel.
I like that this tract is different from booklet tracts. It’s 3D. It will grab kids attention. It’s a cool shape and very eye-catching. I also like that it contains candy. I think it’s important to include candy with evangelistic tools at Halloween and this is a really fun way to do it.
I am not a crafty person! This box tract proved easy to put together. (The fact that the numbers inside did not match the instructions for building the pumpkin threw me for a minute, but then I realized that the numbers inside were related only to the order to read the gospel message and that as long as you put together the pumpkin stems first, the rest of the “petals” could be done in any order.) This would be a fun activity to do with your children (or your Sunday School class or club kids, or whatever). The kids can be involved and have fun adding the candy and assembling the pumpkins. You can discuss what the message is and how you hope the children who receive them will respond. You can also pray together for each child who will receive this box tract.
Most tracts are designed for adults to read along with children. They can discuss what they are reading and make sure the child understands as they go along. This tract has been designed for kids to read themselves. I found a surprising amount of text on each “petal” Especially “petals” 3-6. The first “petal” has four lines of text and I think that is the limit that kids will realistically read. I think two lines of text with a cartoon would be a great solution.
This tract seems to be focused on getting the child to pray a prayer of commitment. However, it just ends there. While we want kids to come to faith, there needs to be a step beyond; some follow-up that gets a child involved in a church community. One idea, possibly, is to put a sticker in the center portion with the church website or address.
I love the creativity of this evangelistic tool. It’s a great opportunity for people to have an impact in their community for Christ.
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.
Writing volunteer responsibilities can be the hardest part about putting together a volunteer job description for Children’s Ministry. Just how much information is necessary? Should you err on the side of too much information or too little? How do you find the balance?
Too Much Detail
Here’s an example of a preschool Sunday School teacher job description that is way too detailed:
During the week
Make a list of the children in your class and pray specifically by name for each child. Also, pray specifically for the Sunday School ministry.
Prepare for the lesson you will be teaching on Sunday by following these steps:
Find the correct date on the schedule you will be given and the matching lesson number from the curriculum you will be given.
Once you have found the lesson you will be teaching, read over the Bible story it is based in your Bible early in the week and make sure you understand it yourself.
Look at the Bible point early in the week.
Read through the whole lesson.
Choose the activities you will use during the lesson (hook, games, crafts, etc)
Make sure you have everything you need. If there are supplies needed that weren’t supplied with your curriculum, they may be in the supply cupboards. Check the inventory list.
Be in contact with your team to make sure everyone knows what their responsibilities are on Sunday morning.
You are responsible for finding a replacement for any weeks you will be absent. Contact the ministry leader at least one week in advance if you are unable to find a replacement for your absence (or as early as possible in the case of illness).
Arrive at the church at least 15 minutes before the class starts in order to give yourself time to prepare your room and meet with your team.
Pray with your team, including your class’s prayer partner, before the children arrive.
Note the attendance of each child as they arrive by putting a sticker by their name under the correct date on the attendance chart. Make sure the child have the appropriate identification for pick-up after the service.
Teach the Bible lesson in a creative way so that children will learn and grow in their faith.
Prepare and serve the snack that will be provided.
Stay in the classroom at all times when children are under your supervision. Never leave children unattended in the classroom.
Take children to the bathroom according to the Children’s Ministry policies and procedures.
Have a fantastic time getting to know the kids in your class, and teaching them about loving God and loving people. Sunday School is a fun ministry. Smile and don’t be afraid to laugh!
Report damaged toys/equipment to the Ministry Leader.
Report any classroom supplies that are needed to the Ministry Leader (pencils, markers, glue, etc.).
Wear your identification name tag whenever you teach Sunday School.
Leave room clean, neat, and in good condition after teaching.
Too Little Detail
Here is an example of a job description for a preschool Sunday School teacher that is way to general:
Prepare and teach Bible lessons for the preschool class.
Find the Balance
The first example had far too much detail for a job description. The second example had hardly any detail at all. When writing responsibilities for a job description, include enough detail so that the potential volunteer has as accurate understanding of the responsibilities of a specific role. It is not necessary to include every single detail of the responsibilities, nor is it necessary to include personal preferences for accomplishing those responsibilities.
Here are some tips for writing responsibilities for Children’s Ministry Volunteer Job Descriptions:
If it’s expected, include it – If something is expected of a volunteer for a specific role, include it in the job description. For example,
If a volunteer is expected to arrive at a specific time, include it in the job description.
If a volunteer is expected to take attendance on a regular basis, include that responsibility in the job description.
Include enough information to be clear about responsibilities without going into unnecessary detail.
If a volunteer is responsible for teaching the lesson each week, say so without going into detail about how they are to prepare and teach the lesson (save that for training sessions).
Differentiate between the responsibilities of volunteers and good ideas for volunteers.
In the above example, one of the responsibilities of the preschool teacher is to prepare for the lesson during the week. A good idea for teachers is to prepare early in the week. So, the job description only needs to state that the volunteer is expected to spend some time preparing for the lesson they will teach.
Leave space for individual personalities.
Responsibilities for volunteers are constant; how each individual volunteer handles those responsibilities is a matter of personality. Don’t make the responsibilities in a job description so specific that individual personalities and creativity is stifled.
Job descriptions are such an important tool for Children’s Ministry leaders and helpful resource for volunteers. When writing job description responsibilities, be specific, clear, and brief.