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Resources, Tips and Content for Children's Ministry and Family Life Leaders

5 Key Ingredients To A Successful Children’s Program

Children will be walking through your doors again this weekend. They will have parents in tow that are counting on you to keep them safe, happy and busy. In addition, it is their hope that you will move their child toward Christ; that your church will be a place where children can know God, discover how to have a personal relationship with Jesus and learn how to live. Have you prepared a program that will do just that?

Below are 5 Key Ingredients that can help you move forward in providing a successful program for the children God has entrusted to you.

Ingredient #1     Organization of Age/Grade Levels

Notice how kids are divided up in your program? Have you lumped all children into one or two rooms for childcare or are you thinking about each child’s church experience and their unique ability to learn about God at each age and grade level? Do children perceive that church is for them or is it a holding tank while parents learn?

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Capture the Boys!

It’s almost impossible to capture and hold the attention of a room full of children whose ages span the grades and whose energy levels and behaviors are as unpredictable as cats!

But every weekend that is exactly what YOU are asked to do.

In fact, it’s what you feel called to do because you believe in the truth of God’s Word, the power of His Holy Spirit and the breadth of His amazing love for children and youth.

You do it because… what you make of the weekend experience is what they will remember about God.

The rule of thumb has always been to target the oldest boy in the room.

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3 Things You Need To Know Before Saying, “YES!”

(part 2 of 3)

Knowing what you’re getting into is a key part of the interview process. While church leadership focuses on you, you should be focusing on the church leadership to gain an understanding of who they are and who they hope to become.

There are usually three layers of discovery:

  • The general/public statements an organization posts on its website
  • The personal/job description, organizational chart and budgeted line items handed to a potential employee
  • The unwritten/sometimes non-negotiable expectations that are usually unearthed during day-to-day operations

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3 Things You Need To Know Before Saying, “YES!”

(part 1 of 3)

Every business, including the church, has its own organizational structure, priorities, hopes, dreams and levels of influence—no matter its size.

Your job, as an outsider, is to discover as much as you can in the dating process before committing to the job—even if you’ve been a volunteer within the system for a long time.

Let’s begin by taking a look at the Organizational Chart (aka “Org” chart).

The Org chart may be handed to you during the hiring process. If not, it’s always a good practice to ask for a written copy and check its accuracy with those you encounter.

The purpose of the Org chart is to show you the direct lines of authority and how the organization is structured. It divides ministries into departments and displays levels of responsibility, power and influence.

However…rarely does an Org chart tell you the whole story.

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Most Important Person In The Room

aka “The Fortholder.”

These are the Protectors, Master Organizers, Hosts and Managers.

They know stuff:

  • Potential hazards
  • Daily schedules
  • Equipment
  • Supplies
  • Emergency procedures
  • Clean up policies

They know people:

  • Volunteers
  • Parents
  • Children
  • Newbies
  • Staff

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Enlisting Volunteers

Fall is almost here, and once again it’s time to enlist, equip and empower new volunteers.
Share you best practices.
What things have you done to successfully FIND and SIGN-UP new volunteers?

Pastor Greg Sidders
White Pine Community Church, North Yarmouth, Maine

First Serve:  Sunday morning “ministry fair”, coupled with message on spiritual gifts/serving, that allows people to sign up for a one-time serving opportunity.

Announcements in church don’t work; it has to be a personal invitation.

Jenni Huter, Children’s Ministry Director
Rancho Community Church, Temecula, CA

Contacting those who have just taken the summer off is always the easiest. It’s just a matter of getting people plugged back in. A well-deserved break usually regenerates enthusiasm.

Last year our lead pastor invited Daniel Watts, Executive Director from Every Generation Ministries, to speak during our weekend services. He spoke on Matthew 19 and shared Jesus’s heart for children. In conjunction, we promoted a new ministry called “30-Family Challenge.” It encouraged families to serve together in Children’s Ministry. It was very successful. We had an influx of families, as well as individuals who enlisted to serve with us. Many Continue reading “Enlisting Volunteers” »

Keeping Kids Safe

As a Children’s Ministry Leader, safekeeping is always the one thing expected of you at all times—whether spoken or unspoken—and it requires much more than common sense on your part and the part of others.

Keeping kids safe requires planning, policies, training and continual re-assessment. It demands an intentionality so well done, that hopefully, it will go unnoticed.

If you are going to be ferocious about one area of ministry over all others, this is it. It only takes one child or one parent one incidence for uncertainty to set in and put the reputation of your church at risk. If kids don’t feel safe, they will make it difficult for their parents to leave them; and if parents don’t feel safe, they will choose alternatives. Either way, you will limit your opportunities to share the gospel and impact families for eternity.

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Think Before You ASK

When inviting someone in to play a role in ministry there are a few key elements you should think through first.

1. Know what you’re inviting people into.

If it’s all foggy and undefined, tell them. If it requires a lot of time and is complicated, be straightforward. If it’s mapped out, but has limitations, restrictions and deadlines, let them know upfront. Honesty is always the best policy and it helps others make good decisions. When possible, offer a clearly defined job description as well.

2. Cast vision. Explain the eternal impact of each job.

Whether it’s a core team member or one of the many others who will hold a specific position or serve on the front line, state the kingdom impact clearly and repeat it often.

Volunteers who care for little ones in the nursery subliminally teach children that God cares for their needs, loves them and is trustworthy. They also grant each child one of the best gifts possible—designated weekly time for their parents to focus on their own relationship with God. Remind volunteers that the best thing you can give a child is a parent who is learning to fully depend upon God for wisdom, direction and strength.

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Don’t Travel Alone — Build A Team

The task of leading children of all ages to Christ is enormous and requires a large group of people with a variety of gifts and strengths. But where are you going to find those people and how are you going to get them to make the journey with you?

Bill Hybels from Willow Creek in Chicago once said, “The first rule of building a team is affinity.” I was new to ministry, sitting in an audience of thousands when I wrote this down in my notes and I wasn’t even sure what it meant. But over the years, I’ve come to bank on this statement. When building a core team, always think affinity first!


 Affinity is defined as having a feeling of identification with; a likeness based upon connection; a kinship; a similarity.

Imagine ministry as a 3,342.4 mile car ride from California to Maine in a Honda Fit. You know where you’re going and you know your mode of transportation is trustworthy although a bit lacking in comfort. You’re inviting companions to join the adventure and travel with you; companions to keep you awake, take turns driving, and help decide where to eat, where to sleep and when to stop for gas. Hopefully you won’t encounter car trouble, but if you do, your companions will help with decision-making and extend the boundaries of your personal resources. You’re pretty sure that along the way you’ll encounter the expected, the extraordinary, the bizarre and the mundane. It’s the shared experience inside that car that will give you camaraderie, create memories, provide entertainment and keep you moving forward in the right direction. From time-to-time constraints of space, finances or other needs may cause frustration, but they will push you toward collective creativity, teamwork and opportunities to extend grace.

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The Big Picture

Children’s Ministry—you think it’s about children, but it’s not!

Most people say, “Yes” to working in children’s ministry because they love children, have children, think working with children will be fun, or believe it may be the least stressful volunteer option that has been placed before them. As the leader, however, you know children are just the beginning. The job is much more.

Children’s Ministry is unlike any other educational ministry in the church in that it requires a large team of volunteers to make it happen. A Pastor can teach a room of a thousand adults standing alone on the front stage. Youth Pastors, Women’s Ministry Leaders and even Worship Pastors can do the same. But the moment you have that second infant handed to you, you’ve reached capacity, safekeeping becomes an issue and you find yourself outnumbered.

Leading Children’s Ministry is more about developing a team of volunteers than interacting with children. You might hold the vision, write the lesson plans, organize the supplies, lead the worship and greet families at the door, but if there aren’t other adults and helpers in the room who know each child by name and are prepared to assist, your desire to run an excellent program is at risk.

In fact, the reality is You serve 4 populations!

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