I just learned some new things related to having a simple children’s ministry with a big impact that I want to share with you. I came across this post from Tony Morgan not long ago, which speaks a little to what communication should look like in our churches (in a word, “simple”). I would encourage you to read this post and also the article from which the post originates.
Of course, I relate almost everything I read to how it might apply to children’s & family ministry, and it struck me that the ideas behind this article are very applicable.
Here’s a quote used in the post which reflects the general outlook of most families:
American families are overwhelmed by clutter, too busy to go in their own backyards, rarely eat dinner together even though they claim family meals as a goal, and can’t park their cars in the garage because they’re crammed with non-vehicular stuff.”
Our church families are far too busy, also, and too often we just compound the problem by adding to their already frenetic life through over-programming, poor communication habits and non-collaboration within the church itself. This is not helping them love God, love others or grow spiritually – which should be our primary goals.
Instead of adding to the problem, our goal ought to be to help alleviate the problem. Church should be an example and a sanctuary to our families. Church should be a place where they do life “right”. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but we should strive to make it simple.
Simple children’s ministry.
Here are a few ideas for making children’s ministry simple when it comes to some the more common problems:
» When was the last time you looked at every program you offer and asked the question, “Do we really need this?” I would venture to say that 50% of the programs in our children’s ministries are not accomplishing what they were intended to accomplish. So why are we still investing our resources in them? Many times our best programming is the elimination of tradition-based and/or ineffective programs that are draining our resources.
» Before committing to a new program, always, always, always answer these questions:
- Does this clearly align with the stated vision of our ministry? If it doesn’t, don’t even think about doing it, no matter whose idea it was!
- If the answer is “yes”, then define how & why this program is an imperative piece to accomplishing the vision.
- Is their leadership available (other than the children’s pastor) to drive this ministry long-term?
- Do we have the resources available to “do it right” and continue to do it right (sustainability)?
» Take a few minutes and list all the ways you (and anyone else in children’s ministry) are trying to communicate with parents. Include face to face, emails, Facebook (& other social media), bulletins, department or class specific flyers, take-home papers, signs in the lobby – everything. Chances are their are many avenues of communication and few, if any, are coordinated. This equals poor communication and just adds to the barrage parents deal with every day, because they are getting the same thing from their kids’ school, sports teams, clubs, and who knows where else!
» Develop a communication strategy which:
- Defines what communication is vital. Focus on these messages to try and reduce the noise.
- Limits the number of messages in any given week or month to as few as possible.
- Creates messages which stands out. That poorly written email which is 4 pages long doesn’t work. Think: few words; variety; image rich; clear & concise.
» Create a communication center which parents can come to on their own time to find what they need (a up-to-date website & Facebook page should be minimum components they have access to)
» Just because the youth pastor or the worship pastor (or whoever) doesn’t collaborate when scheduling doesn’t mean that you can’t. Don’t think “it’s useless because they never want to work with me”…rather, think “for the sake of my families I’m going to do everything I can to avoid asking them to be somewhere every night of the week.”
» Be sure to coordinate within children’s ministry, as well. AWANA should not be competing with Sunday School – make sure every area is working together.
An entire book could be written on this subject, but these are just a few ideas
that might help us create more “simple” children’s ministries.
What have you learned about keeping things simple?