Ah that summer kid’s ministry outreach…it seemed so far away in January, didn’t it? And then you blink twice and BAM! Here is is…. For all those amazing leaders, paid and unpaid, who sacrifice their time and energy in the summer to minister to kids and families let me just say- “Thank you for all that you do. God SEES all your hard work. Your are sowing toward ETERNITY! I salute you.” I remember one of our staff pastors offhandedly saying, “Oh I can’t wait for summer when things slow down a bit and I get a break!” I laughed and laughed to avoid crying! lol. Summer is GO time in kid’s and family ministries- VBS, Block outreaches, Bible Camp, Missions Trips etc. I am hoping that the following will HELP you, not stress you out worse. It is an excerpt from my second book, “Your Children’s Ministry Beyond Basics” which has a whole chapter on planning dynamic outreaches. This is a sample timeline for planning and effectively carrying out that amazing summer outreach. Don’t stress about being exact on every time goal. But this can give you a few ideas to reach for, so things aren’t forgotten and you aren’t scrambling at the last minute (as MUCH). Feel free to print it off and check it off as needed (I’m a list girl). Wanna get your hot little hands on a copy of the book? You can get it here- http://a.co/1ahWPpj         Lots of love- Trisha

 

PS- What is YOUR best tried and true tip for making summer outreaches a WIN?

 

SAMPLE TIMELINE TO A DYNAMIC AND EFFECTIVE FAMILY OR CHILDREN’S OUTREACH

 

One Year Before the Event

  1. Choose your outreach, by what is best for YOUR church and culture and goals.
  2. Get the word out NOW. Get your event on the church calendar ASAP and go ahead and reserve any needed vehicles, speakers, equipment.
  1. Have a planning meeting with your team. Again, the best time to plan your next outreach is right after the current one- while it’s all still fresh! You need HONEST feedback from a variety of people. Now is the time to get tips and ideas for the next outreach. Please see the back of this book for my “after action report” that I have all of my leaders fill out within 7 days of completing our event.  Those forms have been priceless in the planning of our next event.
  2. Set a schedule for regular planning meetings to work on the outreach. Don’t wait til the last minute. Pace yourself and work on it year round.  I have a different team for each different outreach (Christmas musical team is different from the people on my Harvest Fest Team or Egg Hunt Team).  I sit on all of these teams, but I give these leaders a LOT of room to lead, and be creative. You cannot do it all; a team approach works best.

 

9 months before-

  1. Select and Confirm Your Team- delegate such tasks as advertising, communication, food service, cast check in and check out etc. I love having written job descriptions for each role. Let your team know exactly what you need them to do and by when.
  2. Stick to your schedule to meet. Hold each other accountable to stay with the timeline. Keep everyone on task, reminded of the vision and progress.
  3. Make sure you are on track with your budget.
  4. Write a list of everything you are going to need as far as costumes and items. Start collecting those items right away and keep them in a safe place. Try to get things donated, check garage sales, and let people know what you need. You will save a lot of money collecting your materials early.

6 months before-

  1. Put in your written requests with other church teams for needed rehearsal rooms, equipment, and needed staff for the event.
  2. Continue to do your regular team meetings.
  3. Continue to stay on top of your budget.
  4. Continue to collect your costumes and materials that you need.

4 months before-

  1. Hold auditions for key roles (if applicable). Assign parts and give out scripts.
  2. Keep your lead pastor/supervisor apprised of the progress of the event planning. I recommend sending your lead pastor/supervisor a one page written update once or twice a month at this stage. Mention the event in staff meetings also.

C.Vision cast to your congregation. Begin NOW to talk to your congregation about the outreach. Remember that people need to hear about it about 8 times, in many different ways if you want to cut through all the communication “noise” they are hearing every day. Start communicating early and in as many ways as possible.

  1. Begin recruiting for all available positions (chart)
  2. Hold a parent meeting- and make it mandatory for all families whose children will be serving in the outreach. I enclosed our sample parent pack/communication at the end of this book. Remember that conduct standards are crucial; explain this fully, and have parents sign the conduct form right there. Explain the vision, the heart of the ministry. Have a chart ready listing all the areas that you need helpers- pass that chart around for parents to sign up right away.
  3. Begin your weekly rehearsals for your outreach/musical/dramas (if applicable).

3 months ahead-

  1. Your leader meetings need to increase now to at least every other week
  2. All rehearsals for your musicals or dramas are now in full swing. Keep enforcing HIGH standards, attendance standards.
  3. Begin costumes purchasing/development.

D.Begin working on sets.

lE. Work on a written plan for tech, sound and lighting (see examples at the end of this book).

  1. Meet with other teams to vision cast and confirm reservations. Send written reminders as well. Keep communicating the progress to your supervisor.
  2. Advertising needs to go into high gear. Advertising needs to start in earnest 4 months ahead-Public schools, billboards, posters, handouts, overnight prints, postcards, coupons, parades etc.

H.Begin working on a retention plan!

1 month before-

  1. Rehearsals need to pick up at this point to twice a week.
  2. You should aim for at least 2 dress rehearsals with tech and costumes
  3. Go to your church’s prayer team and ask them to pray regularly for your outreach. Invite them to come in and have prayer with your team and your kids.
  4. Have someone taking notes at every meeting and rehearsal. You’ll need to refer to them later.
  5. Step up your communicating with your leader and all other teams and the families of your church.
  6. Be prepared for the 4 weeks of kid’s church that will happen right after the outreach.
  7. Finish all preparations for follow up.
  8. Do one last all out advertising push
  9. Double check that ALL volunteer positions are filled, with emergency backups if necessary.
  10. Double check that all materials and costumes are purchased, and ready to go.
  11. Finish all sets before dress rehearsals.

The Day/night of:

You have done all the prep work at this point. Try to enjoy it now- smile, laugh, hug, pray. You need to be very present, encouraging and flexible. WHEN something goes wrong (not if) pull the focus back to the goal of the outreach. Something will always go wrong; keep going anyway, and make it a win regardless. Your job the night of is to keep encouraging and destressing your leaders, your team and your kids. Meet and greet with new families as much as possible. Watch God work- and enjoy the fruits of all that hard preparation!!

 

The day AFTER-

  1. Post outreach pics and statistics. Collect written TESTIMONIES from your leaders and team.
  2. Expect post-outreach blues. Many children’s ministry leaders are surprised to find that the day after an outreach they experience tears, sadness, and exhaustion. It is normal after such a big event that you’ve been planning and dreaming about for a whole year! Don’t schedule major events during this time. You need to recover.
  3. Turn your phone OFF and get out of town for a day or two to recover.
  4. Send out after action report right away. (see end of the book)
  5. Schedule your debrief meeting within seven days of the event.
  6. CELEBRATE- make sure you have an amazing after party, for all of your cast, crew, leaders and their families. Read the testimonies, talk about all the wins, and look at the best pictures. Allow the members to share about what God did in their lives through the outreach. Ask them to commit to another year of ministry and making a difference.
  7. 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!

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