3 Keys To Help Your Children’s Ministry Thrive
Our Executive Search Consultant Milan Ford recently interviewed Kendra Fleming, Director of Children's Ministry at North Point Ministries in Alpharetta, Georgia, for our Vanderbloemen Leadership Podcast. As a respected thought leader, Kendra offered invaluable insight and wisdom on how to build, run, and keep a great Children’s Ministry team.
As you can imagine, the wealth of knowledge and expertise was just too great to keep it solely in podcast form. Here are three key tips we gleaned from the interview on how to create and maintain a thriving Children's Ministry:
1. Attracting And Retaining Great Volunteers
One of the most crucial factors in attracting and retaining volunteers is having a great #kidmin volunteer culture. Without volunteers, it would be extremely difficult to have a successful ministry of any kind, let alone a Children’s Ministry.
Kendra suggests that the volunteer to child ratio should be 1:3 or 1:4 for birth through prekindergarten age children and 1:8 for elementary age children. For example, if your Children’s Ministry has even just 50 regular attendees, this means you need at least 7 volunteers committed to serving during every service every week for the foreseeable future. In order to accomplish this, Kendra suggests you must “purposefully set aside time to work on and actively create a volunteer culture.”
Here are some ideas to help you start (or keep) an attractive #kidmin volunteer culture:
- Spend time planning (and budgeting) for volunteer appreciation. This could range from small monthly gifts to large events.
- Intentionally foster relationships with your volunteers and with the children’s parents. Send personal handwritten notes, take someone out for coffee, and ask how you can specifically pray for them (and follow through!).
- Brainstorm fun swag that you can hand out to first-time volunteers, such as t-shirts or coffee mugs. Volunteers who love their ministry also love to tell others about it!
- Have a Strategic Service Sunday where your senior church leadership talks to the congregation about the importance of volunteers in ministry. Some key volunteers can speak on how serving has blessed them as well and how others can get involved.
- Give volunteers important jobs and make sure they know just how important they are to your ministry. This means equipping them for the job with proper training, sharing lots of stories about how impactful their service is, and ensuring that the staff is there to support them.
2. Assessing Children's Ministry Health
The health of your Children’s Ministry is determined by much more than numbers. However, keeping track of metrics can be a very helpful in assessing the health of your ministry. Here are some metrics that Kendra uses to keep the North Point Children’s Ministry on track:
- Collect stories from volunteers, parents, and children of how they have been impacted by the Children's Ministry. Stories are powerful tools to teach, celebrate, and grow.
- Monitor numbers:
- How many guests attending church?
- How many kids in the different #KidMin groups?
- Are the small groups getting too large? (Kendra suggests 8-10 children is ideal for one small group.)
- Keep an eye on social media. Many people count on social media to give them a good picture of the day-to-day in a church’s ministry. Do you document fun events and big ministry wins on social media? It could also be a great way to celebrate your volunteers!
- Survey parents on the effectiveness of the Children's Ministry tools you equip them with. Perhaps you discover that the coloring activity you sent home with children last week isn’t particularly spurring conversations within the family. You’ll be better informed to brainstorm other activities with the help of feedback from surveys.
3. Deciding When And How To Hire Staff
While volunteers play a major role in the success of a Children’s Ministry, staff members are necessary to provide support and leadership to volunteers. Whether it’s your first hire or fifth hire, it can be difficult to determine when it is time to add a full-time #KidMin staff member and what kind of person you need to fill that role.
How do you know when it’s time to add a staff member? At North Point, there are two pillars for staff within the Children’s Ministry: Groups and Production.
- Small Group Director hires are driven solely by the number of children in small groups. To use their Elementary Ministry as an example:
- For every 8-10 kids, there is 1 volunteer small group leader
- For every 8-10 leaders, there is 1 volunteer leader coach
- For every 8 coaches, there is 1 full-time Small Group Director on staff
- Production Director hires are based on overall ministry size. For example, if there are enough children to necessitate 2 large group environments at 2 services each week, then 1 full-time Production Director is needed to lead volunteers.
- Hire someone who can cast vision well. Volunteers who are able to connect to a vision and purpose stay in ministry longer. A director must be able to step back and cast vision for why we’re here and why it matters.
- Hire someone who is highly responsible and has a personal sense of ownership. Children’s Ministry involves quite a lot of details and systems to properly care for kids. A director is responsible for children’s safety and must be someone you can trust and rely on.
- Hire someone with good people skills. A director needs to have a pastoral side in order to foster relationships with volunteers and parents. By being kind, patient, diplomatic, and an excellent listener, this person will be able to lead people to change and grow.
As a final word of encouragement, Kendra offers this advice: You have to have your own personal meaning, motivation, and calling from your Heavenly Father for your work in Children’s Ministry. If you’re discouraged, you may need to just step back from it all and remember who you’re doing this for and why you’re doing it.
How will you begin to jumpstart your Kids Ministry this year?