4 Simple Tips to Prepare for the Unexpected

Are you prepared for emergencies?
A few weeks ago I woke up on Sunday morning and I was sick! Even though I was leading Large Group Time and teaching the preschool class, I knew I couldn’t go.

People get sick; emergencies happen. It is important to have a plan for dealing with those unexpected things.

1. Recruit a go-to person

As a leader, it is important for you to have someone able to step into your shoes. Recruit someone who is already involved in children’s ministry; someone who is able to handle emergencies. The go-to person should be given the volunteer schedule and the sub list. They should also be given a brief description of what their options are in an emergency (ex. canceling a class, contacting a sub, etc.) It is important that the go-to person be given the authority to handle the situation as they see fit.

2. Recruit Subs

Recruit a few people willing to be subs. Subs are volunteers willing to step in when needed. They may be given notice or they may be asked to step in with very little notice. It is important that you give your subs teacher schedules, class routines, behavior management polices, an overview of the curriculum. The more info they have, the smoother the transition will be when they are called to serve – especially at the last minute.

3. Communication

Do you have the phone numbers of your volunteers handy? Do they have yours? Do you have more than one way of getting in touch with your volunteers? In an emergency, people need to know who to contact and how to contact them. Make this information available in obvious places in your classrooms.

4. Make sure your team is aware of emergency procedures

Before emergencies happen! Let your volunteers know that you have a go-to person and who that person is. Make sure your volunteers have the sub list. Make sure your volunteers have your contact information and the phone numbers of team members. Let them know what will happen if you get sick at the last minute. Your team will be confident and it will be easier to recruit new volunteers if they know that you have procedures in place for those unplanned situations.

 

Flu hits, family emergencies happen. Be prepared by having people ready to step in and make sure you let your team know what the procedures are for those emergency situations.

Curriculum Pick – Discipleland

It can be hard to find good, solid, Biblical curriculum. I spend a lot of time previewing different curriculum and searching for the best-valued and most Biblical curriculum for my readers.

Discipleland is one of my top 3 picks. Here’s a promotional video about their curriculum that highlights one of the reasons why I love Discipleland – their systematic approach to teaching fundamental truths.

Check them out and let me know what you think.

Now is the Time to Start Cultivating Next Year’s Volunteers

childrens ministry cultivate volunteersHere are three ideas to start cultivating next year’s volunteers.

1. Keep the volunteers you already have through appreciation and training

Recruiting is an ongoing issue for children’s ministry leaders. But it is less stressful if you have a core of volunteers who return year after year. The best ways to ensure your volunteers keep coming back are through appreciation and training.

Appreciation

There are many ways to show appreciation to your volunteers. The most important thing is to do it! Here are some ideas for showing appreciation to your volunteers:

Send a thank you card – Write a personal note to each of your volunteers. If you have a lot of volunteers, consider spreading this task throughout the year. Think about each volunteer individually and write a specific appreciation note. Maybe something you noticed about their service and an area of their character that has made an impression on you. Mail these thank you cards to their home address. Knowing that you have taken the time to write a personal card and mail it to them will mean a lot to your volunteers.

Appreciation banquet – Plan a special evening just for your volunteers. It doesn’t have to be really expensive in order to be meaningful to your volunteers. The appreciation evening can be formal or informal. It can be a banquet or a potluck. But take the time to plan out the evening.

  • Here is one idea: offer an appreciation evening where the kids in your children’s ministry prepare, serve, and clean up the meal and plan a program. If the kids are talented musically they may play an instrument or sing a song. Ask a couple of the kids to share why they appreciate their teachers. This appreciation evening idea shows that you are thankful for your volunteers and that they kids they serve appreciate them too!

Seasonal appreciation – you could send out seasonal appreciation gifts. These can be serious or humorous. Let your personality shine in the way you show appreciation to your volunteers!

  • At Christmas you could ask some of the kids to decorate Styrofoam cups. Then add a specialty hot chocolate package and a small packet of mini-marshmallows. Simply wrap it in tissue paper and tie it with ribbon. Add a tag with a simple message “Thank you for serving.”
  • For Valentines you could send valentines cards to your volunteers or package up some Hershey Kisses in a treat bag tied with a ribbon. One possible verse you could write on the tag would be Ephesians 3: 16-19 – “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
  • For spring you could send your volunteers packets of flower seeds. In an attached note tell them that you are so thankful for them and their commitment to growing disciples of Jesus.
  • Take them out for coffee – again, this may depend on how many volunteers you have. Take them out in groups or individually. Use this time to get to know them. Let them know that you appreciate what they do. Be specific if you can.

Give them a break – this appreciation idea is especially significant for those volunteers who have served faithfully over the years. Offer to take one of their teaching days so they can have the weekend off or find a sub who can teach one Sunday for them. This idea works for all scheduling options – year-long, or rotation schedules. Make sure your volunteer understands why you are giving them a break. Let them know that you are thankful for their faithful service and what to encourage and re-energize them by giving them a little teaching holiday.

Training

Offer at least one training seminar each year. If you are not comfortable doing the training yourself, consider asking someone to come and help you. There are many different areas of training for children’s ministry volunteers. Whatever you choose, ensure that it is pertinent to your team.

2. Personally seek out new volunteers

Announcements from the pulpit are a good way to inform the congregation of your volunteer needs and to let them know how best to pray for you, but they are not the best way to find volunteers.

Approach possible volunteers personally. Let them know what your specific need is and why you thought of them. Make sure they understand what you are asking of them and the time commitment you require. Give them time to think and pray about being involved in children’s ministry. Encourage them to ask questions.

3. Ask God to raise up people to serve in needed areas and ask the congregation to pray with you

Spend time praying for the specific people you will need. Pray that they will feel a call to serve in children’s ministry, have a passion to see kids discipled, and a willingness to be a team player.

Ask the congregation to pray with you. Making your prayer needs known to the congregation reminds them that children’s ministry is a vital part of the church and that everyone can be involved through prayer.

Recruiting volunteers can be a daunting task. These tips will help make it a little less so.

There is Huge Value in Spending Time with People Who Share Your Passion

children's ministry networkingEvery couple of months I get together with other children’s pastors in my city. We meet for lunch and catch up on each others’ lives. We talk about what is going well in our ministries and what isn’t. We talk about ideas we have for special events and programs. We seek advice and use each other as sounding boards. We share prayer requests.

I love these lunches. I find great value in attending them.

These are people who share my passion, who understand and commiserate, who laugh with me and share my frustrations.

I strongly recommend finding others in your city, town, or area who work with kids in churches. Arrange to meet every couple of months. It doesn’t have to be super-organized or formal. But find a group that you can share your ministry with.

It makes such a huge difference to know you are not alone in your desire to disciple children and partner with parents for the glory of God.

How do you develop a vision statement for your children’s ministry? Part 3 – Get the Word Out

You have finished brainstorming and created a single sentence vision statement. The last step in this vision-creating series is to make sure that everyone knows the vision for children’s ministry in your church.

You want everyone in children’s ministry to know and champion this vision. Gather your volunteers for a training day. Tell them how you arrived at your vision. Then offer them a tangible reminder of it. Creating bookmarks with the vision statement on them is a good idea. Encourage your volunteers to keep their bookmarks in their Bibles or curriculum binders. Encourage them to use the vision as they pray for their kids. It is also very important to tell your volunteers how they will be a vital part of seeing this vision fulfilled in the lives of the children in your church.

You also want the pastor and parents and other members of your congregation to know it as well. Knowing the vision statement shows them how to begin praying for the children of your church. It also shows them the value of children’s ministry. Arrange a meeting with the pastor and maybe even the board of elders or deacons. Present the vision to them.

Ideas for spreading the word about your vision include:

  • on your church website
  • on bookmarks
  • on posters
  • on letters
  • on registration forms
  • your email signature

Take some time at the end of your brainstorming day to think of ways of getting the word out creatively in your church community. Make it very visible. The goal is to have everyone be able to share the vision statement if asked.

 

A vision statement is a dream of what you want the kids in your ministry to be like once they leave. But it should be an attainable dream. You should be able to see it working out in the lives of the kids you minister to.

Dream big for your kids and then do all you can to fulfill that vision!

 

How do you develop a vision statement for your children’s ministry? Part one – Brainstorm, Part two – Create a single sentence vision statement, Part three – Get the word out.

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