Taken From The UpComing Book “Your Kid’s Ministry: Year Two and Beyond”, Sequel to “Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch”.

THE WINNING CHECKLIST TO MAKE ANY CHILDREN’S/FAMILY OUTREACH WORK FOR YOUR CHURCH

  1. Start EARLY –The earlier the better.  Most great outreaches start planning/working/meeting a year in advance. The very best time to start your planning and meetings with your teams is immediately after the last one ends- while it’s still fresh in everyone’s minds. Take a lot of notes. You’d be surprised what may slip your mind as soon as the event is over.
  2. Rehearse and prepare or don’t do it. Set the highest standards right from the outset. Destroy the outdated stereotypes by making your event stand out.
  3. Showcase a LOT of kids, not just the chosen few. The more children you can include in SOME way the better. Even if it’s not on the stage. Sign them up for offering, choir, handing out bulletins, reciting verses and more.
  4. ABOVE all- use these outreaches as a teaching opportunity to instill a love of SERVING God and others in that group of kids. I tell our young teams every week at rehearsal, “This is not about making us look good; this is about making Jesus look good. We do our best so that people will be drawn to Jesus. Your attitude trumps and your attitude is so much more important than your talent! I would rather have 5 of you up there, so in love with Jesus and people, even if you cannot sing or act or dance at all, than to have 200 of the best actors, dancers, and singers in the world, who get up there to share with a nasty selfish attitude.” They can almost recite this speech back to me now. But watching them minister, I know they get it. Teach serving- not a concert of popularity and showing off.
  1. Do your best to work cross teams- Kids and family outreaches can NEVER be fully carried out without help from other teams in your church. You are going to need help with sound/tech, perhaps your music pastor or your worship pastor or your drama director etc. Nothing we do is done in a bubble; and it is easy to get “laser focused” on what our own ministry is doing and forget that there are so many other very important ministries going on in our church at the very same time. And we assume each other area knows all about our event and cares about it as passionately as we do. And when another area drops the ball, or WE are not communicating as we should, it can be too easy to get a martyr complex and start feeling, and expressing to others, “I’m the ONLY one in this church who cares about the kids!” I would plead with you and your teams that as much as it depends on you, that you would strive to work as a team and be at peace with the other departments of the church. This will mean a lot of over communicating on your part, long before the event, thoroughly following up with heads of departments, a lot of patience, and at times communicating in various ways- email, letters, in person, voicemail and even in a meeting with your lead pastor. You will have to learn the delicate balance between kindness and persistence, forgiveness and confrontation, their needs and your area’s needs. You really can be loving and patient, and still be passionate and persistant about that ministry. Do your best not to burn any bridges while trying to launch your event.  An event is over in days, but the fallout of staff conflict can go on for years. If you know things are going sour, do NOT ignore the tension. Sit down and attempt to talk it out.  If that fails, go in with your leader and that staff person. And above all, keep praying, praying praying. This could be a great opportunity to forge a dynamic working relationship across teams that will last long after this outreach is gone.  God may be using this, these connections to take your every week ministry to another level! And if that other staff person is still not thrilled about a “kid’s event”? Love them anyway, pray that God will change their heart and but you keep your eyes on the goal.
  2. Be prepared to pay the toll- Jesus said “count the cost”. It is best to go into an outreach knowing that this is going to be a HUGE job. It will not be easy. There will be several times you will not feel you have enough help. You will feel that it will flop (especially the week before). Nothing great in life comes for free. An effective kid’s and family outreach will come at a heavy cost- to your energy, your time in general, your talents, time with your family, your emotions and more. Know, going into your outreach, that this is going to be tough, but worth it, and with God’s help, you will reach your goals!
  3. Have your plan in place for follow up and stick to it. Will you have everyone register at the door? Electronically or on paper? Who exactly will be going through the names and listing each and every visitor with emails and phone numbers? Which exact days and times will you- and your TEAM- be doing follow up? Will you use email, letters, phone calls or a combination? Will you split the follow up equally between the people on the team? Make sure you check back with your leaders and make sure they connected with everyone you assigned. I suggest having your follow up letter from you ready to go even before the event. The success of your outreach- by definition- rises and falls on your retention of new people.
  4. Put it in the evenings. More and more parents both have to work. Anything in the evening automatically is viewed as having more importance.

9.  Work hard to get the whole family there. Make it an event that the whole family will enjoy and you are much more                  likely to see that family come back and visit your church again!

10.Adapt the curriculum (without braking copyright!) for your church and your families/culture. How can you best get THIS         group’s attention?

11.Connect your VBS to what your church is doing as a whole. This is so important! As much as possible, tie your event in         to your current kid’s/family programs; this increases your retention by leaps and bounds. Do the kids adore a certain             puppet or costume character at your event? Bring that character back on a regular basis for kid’s church. Was the               icecream social after your VBS a hit with families? Then do it again for back to school. Stand alone events do not have         the impact of an event that ties in or even launches something ongoing at your church.

12.Step up the quality of your weekly kid’s ministry now. Just as important as the outreach itself are the four weeks of               “regular” church immediately after the outreach.  You may be tired, but this is PART of the outreach- not additional.             When those families DO come back to check out your church after an event, they usually give you ONE chance.                   __________________ So make it count; if you really want to grow, you will have to raise the bar- be ready.

13. Schedule new leader trainings and welcome meetings for new families for the weeks immediately following your              event. Be strategic about plugging these new families in!

Of course, when your outreach is all said and done, praise God you survived.  Every time you complete an outreach or major project in ministry, you learn, grow, and get better.  No outreach is perfect. Overcome and face your fear. And God’s grace shines brighter in our weakness. He can take what little we give and do the impossible. I like this quote: “Better to reach for the stars and come soooo close than to aim for the dirt and hit head on.” Jesus taught us to be “Fisher’s of men”. And we are never more like Jesus than when we welcome His kids and even lay down our lives (and schedules and comfort) to bring them home. I wish you happy and effective fishing. Love Trisha

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